Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 12/10

Game 1: Saturday, December 10th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 18th
Game 3: Wednesday, March 15th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 5th

Suns 112

(25-13, 10-7 away)

Clippers 102

(20-15, 13-6 home)

    Coverage: FSW

    7:30 PM ET, January 18, 2006

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 30 37 29 16112
    LAC 24 24 32 22102

    Top Performers

    Phoenix: S. Marion 30 Pts, 17 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

    Los Angeles: S. Cassell 27 Pts, 4 Reb, 5 Ast

    Pacific battle: Marion, Nash lead Suns past Clippers

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns rebounded from their worst loss of the season with a strong team effort.

    Shawn Marion had 30 points and 17 rebounds, Leandro Barbosa had 21 off the bench, and Steve Nash added 20 points and 18 assists for the Suns on Wednesday night in a 112-102 victory that ended the Clippers' three-game winning streak.

    "We have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball, and that's how our team is built," said Nash, last season's MVP. "We don't really have a post-up player, so we have to move the ball, penetrate and kick, and create open shots for one another."

    The Suns, who were coming off a season-worst 29-point loss at Sacramento, increased their lead in the Pacific Division to 3½ games over the second-place Clippers with their 11th victory in 14 games. The only other time the teams have met this season was Dec. 10, when Los Angeles snapped Phoenix's nine-game winning streak with a 101-91 victory that temporarily put the Clippers alone in first place.

    "We showed a lot of toughness and determination to come back from last night and not allow that to carry over," Nash said.

    Sam Cassell scored 27 points for the Clippers, who weren't able to contain the NBA's highest-scoring teams. Elton Brand had 19 points, and Chris Kaman added 13 points and 17 rebounds.

    Phoenix led by as many as 21 points early in the third quarter before staving off a fourth-quarter rally by Los Angeles.

    Clippers shooting guard Cuttino Mobley picked up two fouls in the first 4:05 and didn't return to the court until the start of the second half. He made his only basket in nine attempts with 9:01 remaining, as he converted a layup into a three-point play. That triggered a 10-2 run that reduced a 14-point deficit to 100-94.

    Rookie Daniel Ewing capped the rally with a 3-pointer -- the Clippers' only one of the game -- but they got no closer.

    "Me getting in foul trouble, that was the difference," Mobley said. "I shouldn't put our team in that situation. The coach relies on me doing different things on the court. Ad when I'm not out there, we've got Sam playing with a bad back and a lot of young guys out there. It's kind of hard to battle back when you ain't got that much time."

    The Suns, who averaged an NBA-best 9.71 baskets from 3-point range last season, are leading the league again in that department. They were 11-for-26 from behind the arc, while the Clippers were 1-for-7.

    "We try to take what they give us," Nash said. "A lot of times when we get the ball in the paint, they're going to leave our 3-point shooters open. We're confident with anyone taking a shot in their comfort zone and we feel like we can create shots for one another."

    Cassell, who sat out practice Tuesday because of a sore back after playing 43 minutes in Monday's overtime win over Utah, received a technical foul from referee David Guthrie with 1.6 seconds left in the first quarter. Cassell responded with a profanity, but escaped a second technical as Guthrie walked away.

    Nash converted the free throw after Cassell's technical foul, starting a 23-7 run that extended Phoenix's four-point lead to 51-31 with 7:26 left in the half. Barbosa made three driving layups during the rally, which ended with 3-pointers 33 seconds apart by James Jones and former Clipper Eddie House.

    Suns chairman and CEO Jerry Colangelo is with the team on this trip, and approached Brand before the game about the possibility of playing in the Olympics. Colangelo is managing director for USA Basketball, and is involved in the selection process for the squad that will compete in the world championships and the 2008 Beijing Games.

    "The reason why I was meeting with him is that we have great interest in him for what he is," said Colangelo, who is expected to announce the first batch of camp invitees by the NBA All-Star break in mid-February. "He's a competitor and he's a winner. He plays a lot bigger than his size, and his shot has improved tremendously. He would give the team we're trying to put together a low post presence.

    "If we send him an invitation, he's definitely indicated that he would accept. He knows about the three-year commitment, he knows what's expected of him, and he'd like the opportunity. He told me, `If you invite me, I'm in."

    Game notes

    Brand and Marion are among four players currently averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. The other two are Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. ... The Suns had 32 assists and just nine turnovers. They came in with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.96, second best in the league behind Detroit (2.13).

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 112 102
    FGM-FGA 42-90 (.467) 41-89 (.461)
    3PM-3PA 11-26 (.423) 1-7 (.143)
    FTM-FTA 17-19 (.895) 19-28 (.679)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-35 16-51
    Assists 32 19
    Turnovers 9 14
    Steals 7 4
    Blocks 2 5
    Fast Break Points 21 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (3/0) 21 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 21 4

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Shawn Marion Marion
    Points: 30
    Reb: 17
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 1
    Sam Cassell Cassell
    Points: 27
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0