Final

Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/10

Game 1: Saturday, December 10th
Suns91Final
Clippers101
Game 2: Wednesday, January 18th
Suns112Final
Clippers102
Game 3: Wednesday, March 15th
Clippers95Final
Suns126
Game 4: Wednesday, April 5th
Clippers119Final
Suns105

Clippers 95

(37-26, 15-16 away)

Suns 126

(45-19, 26-9 home)

7:00 PM ET, March 15, 2006

US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

1 2 3 4 T
LAC 22 32 17 2495
PHX 36 37 27 26126

Top Performers

LAC: S. Cassell 14 Pts, 3 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl

PHX: S. Nash 25 Pts, 3 Reb, 12 Ast

Nash scores 25 as Suns overwhelm Clippers

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns are running away with the Pacific Division again, and are lighting up the scoreboard in the process.

Steve Nash was 9-of-11 from the floor and had 25 points and 12 assists before sitting out the fourth quarter Wednesday night while the Suns completed a 126-95 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers, their nearest division foe.

"I think we all knew it was a big game for us," Nash said. "In many ways, it would be tough not to say this clinches the division. We had that frame of mind going into the game, and we played like it from start to finish."

The Suns made 16 3-pointers, three shy of the franchise record, in 31 attempts.

Nash was 6-of-8 on 3s and had one turnover.

"I think he's had a better year this year, and he was MVP last year," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "As far as I'm concerned, that's who I'd vote for. He's incredible."

Phoenix was playing its fourth game in five nights, and arrived back in town at 3 a.m. Wednesday. Yet there was no sign of fatigue. Counting Tuesday night's 129-120 victory in Seattle, the Suns scored 255 points on consecutive nights.

"That's a lot of scoring," Shawn Marion said. "We're doing it as a team, too. That's the best thing about it."

Seven Phoenix players, including all five starters, scored in double figures. Boris Diaw and James Jones had 17 points apiece, Raja Bell 16, Marion 14, Leandro Barbosa 13 and Tim Thomas 11. Marion also had 12 rebounds.

"It says a lot about this team, especially getting in so late. To come out here and play the game we played tonight, it says a lot," Marion said.

The Clippers' four-game winning streak was over before they knew what hit them.

"They just totally outworked us," Corey Maggette said. "This is a team you can't relax with, you have to play defense the whole 48 minutes on them. Tonight they were making shots on all cylinders. We just didn't bring our game, and it showed."

The Suns, winners of 14 of their last 16, scored the first 10 points of the game and Los Angeles never was closer than eight after that. The blowout gave Phoenix (45-19) a 7½-game lead over the second-place Clippers (37-26) in the Pacific Division with 18 to play. The Suns never had won consecutive division titles.

"When you combine our offense and the defense we had tonight, which was superb, things are going to go well," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We played about as well as we can play."

Los Angeles had five players in double figures, led by 18 apiece by Maggette and Elton Brand. Chris Kaman was just 3-of-10 and scored eight points but grabbed 16 rebounds. Sam Cassell scored 14, and Vladimir Radmanovic added 13.

The Suns had their highest-scoring half of the season to build a 73-54 lead at the break.

The Clippers scored the first three points of the third quarter, the last two on Cassell's 20-footer, then the Suns turned on the throttle in a 13-0 blitz to go up 86-57 with 8:28 to go.

Every point in the run came from the outside. Bell started it with a 3-pointer, Jones sank a 22-footer, Nash made a 3, then Jones did the same. Diaw capped it with an 18-footer.

The Suns made nine of their first 11 shots and bolted to a 24-4 lead on Nash's 3-pointer with 5:20 left in the first quarter. Bell's 3-pointer at the 3:39 mark made it 29-8. The Clippers cut it to 36-22 at the end of the quarter behind Cassell's eight points.

Los Angeles made it 45-37 on Radmanovic's 3-pointer with 7:28 left in the half. Diaw's three-point play and Thomas' dunk made it 50-37. The Clippers never cut the lead to single digits again.

Brand's 14-footer sliced it to 55-44 3:46 before the break.

But Jones sank a 3-pointer and scored inside on a feed from Nash. Nash's 7-foot bank shot boosted Phoenix's lead to 62-44 with 2:35 left in the half. Consecutive 3-pointers by Marion and Nash put the Suns up 73-51 before Radmanovic's 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer made it 73-54 at the break.

Game notes


In the first quarter, Nash was 5-for-5 for 14 points and four assists. ... Marion has an NBA-best 51 double-doubles, two shy of his career high set last season. ... The Clippers need one victory to top their total of 37 for last season. ... Maggette missed a breakaway showboat dunk late in the third quarter. ... The Clippers' Shaun Livingston left the game with a left ankle sprain.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
LAC
PHX
Points 95 126
FGM-FGA 35-102 (.343) 50-90 (.556)
3PM-3PA 5-19 (.263) 16-31 (.516)
FTM-FTA 20-30 (.667) 10-11 (.909)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 24-59 3-47
Assists 15 31
Turnovers 15 16
Steals 8 6
Blocks 1 6
Fast Break Points 8 21
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (1/0) 20 (0/0)
Largest Lead 0 31

Top Performers

Los Angeles
Phoenix
Sam Cassell Cassell
Points: 14
Reb: 3
Ast: 7
Stl: 2
Blk: 0
Steve Nash Nash
Points: 25
Reb: 3
Ast: 12
Stl: 0
Blk: 0