Final

Phoenix wins series 4-3 (Game 1 of 7)

Phoenix wins series 4-3

Game 1: Monday, May 8th
Clippers123Final
Suns130
Game 2: Wednesday, May 10th
Clippers122Final
Suns97
Game 3: Friday, May 12th
Suns94Final
Clippers91
Game 4: Sunday, May 14th
Suns107Final
Clippers114
Game 5: Tuesday, May 16th
Clippers118Final
2OT
Suns125
Game 6: Thursday, May 18th
Suns106Final
Clippers118
Game 7: Monday, May 22nd
Clippers107Final
Suns127

Clippers 123

(47-35, 20-21 away)

Suns 130

(54-28, 31-10 home)

    7:30 PM ET, May 8, 2006

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAC 25 36 30 32123
    PHX 29 27 37 37130

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles: E. Brand 40 Pts, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 Blk

    Phoenix: S. Nash 31 Pts, 3 Reb, 12 Ast

    Suns use fourth-quarter run to pull away for victory

    PHOENIX (AP) -- The Los Angeles Clippers wanted to waltz. Phoenix came to boogie.

    In the end, the Suns had their way in a 130-123 victory, outscoring the Clippers 74-62 in the second half in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series on Monday night.

    Daily Dime
    Small addendum to the scouting report that says tiny Phoenix, if it struggled inside with Lakers center Kwame Brown, has no chance with Clippers big man Elton Brand:

    That part couldn't be more true, but it's probably worth mentioning that the Los Angeles Clippers still have to run after a lot of little Suns.

    Which ain't exactly a bargain, either.

    To read more of Marc Stein's analysis in Monday night's Daily Dime, click here.

    "Tempo wasn't exactly what we needed," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said.

    Steve Nash, presented with the MVP trophy by commissioner David Stern before the game, had 31 points and 12 assists, and the Suns pulled away over a five-minute stretch of the fourth quarter.

    Shawn Marion had 20 points and 15 rebounds, including 10-of-10 free throws for the Suns, who were 24-of-25 at the line. Raja Bell added 22 points, Boris Diaw 19 and Leandro Barbosa 17 for a Phoenix team playing 48 hours after eliminating that other team from Los Angeles, the Lakers, in seven games.

    "We weren't tired," Bell said. "We felt good."

    Elton Brand scored 40 on 18-of-22 shooting, but scored only two in the final 8:33 for the Clippers, who hadn't played in a week since beating Denver in five games for their first playoff series triumph in 30 years.

    "It must be a difficult loss for Elton," Nash said. "He was phenomenal. I thought he was trying to get them to change the MVP at halftime."

    Steve Nash
    Steve Nash picked up his MVP award before Monday night's game. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Sam Cassell added 28 points and Corey Maggette 20.

    Dunleavy said before the game that the score needed to be in the 90s for his team to win. Both teams had passed that by the end of the third quarter.

    Los Angeles shot 59 percent and still couldn't keep up with the Suns, who shot 55 percent. Phoenix has averaged 122 points in winning its last four playoff games after falling behind the Lakers 3-1.

    "To get the tempo in our favor, we really need to limit our quick shots," Brand said. "That is their game plan. It can't be fool's gold. We need to take it down and run our plays."

    Brand's dunk with 8:33 to go tied the game for the last time at 101. Diaw scored the next four on a driving layup and a running, 10-foot bank shot to trigger an 11-2 run that gave Phoenix a 112-103 lead on Nash's 17-footer with 5:35 remaining.

    Dunleavy gave Brand a minute on the bench early in the outburst, and neither the big forward nor his teammates could recover.

    "I was hoping he would be out a little longer," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Once in a while he has to catch his breath, I would hope, but he was terrific."

    The surge reached 19-6 on Nash's 3-pointer that made it 120-107 with 2:56 left.

    Cassell kept the Clippers in it, and his layup cut the lead to 122-115 with 1:45 to go. But Nash converted a three-point play with a minute left, and the game was over.

    The Clippers outscored the Suns 16-2 over the final four minutes of the first half to go up 61-56 at the break. Phoenix didn't have a field goal in the last 4:10 as its usually high-powered offense turned stagnant.

    Brand scored 23 in the first half on 10-for-13 shooting.

    The Suns scored nine in a row to go up 68-65 on Marion's stuff with 8:49 left in the third. Dunleavy called a timeout, and Cassell scored nine in a 13-2 run that put Los Angeles back on top, 78-70, with 6:18 to go in the quarter.

    The Suns rallied and Bell's 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds to go in the third put Phoenix ahead 93-91 entering the fourth quarter.

    Game notes


    Brand is the 13th player to score at least 40 points against Phoenix in the playoffs. ... Marion celebrated his 28th birthday Sunday and Suns coach Mike D'Antoni turned 55 on Monday. ... Marion drew a technical after he was called for his third foul with 29 seconds left in the first half. ... Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has attended the last two playoff games in Phoenix, accompanying Jerry Colangelo, the Suns' chairman and former owner. Colangelo is head of USA Basketball and Krzyzewski is the U.S. head coach for this year's world championships and the 2008 Olympics.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    LAC
    PHX
    Points 123 130
    FGM-FGA 48-81 (.593) 47-86 (.547)
    3PM-3PA 4-12 (.333) 12-27 (.444)
    FTM-FTA 23-29 (.793) 24-25 (.960)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-39 8-34
    Assists 20 26
    Turnovers 15 11
    Steals 4 6
    Blocks 6 1
    Fast Break Points 15 18
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (2/0) 25 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 8 13

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Phoenix
    Elton Brand Brand
    Points: 40
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 4
    Steve Nash Nash
    Points: 31
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 12
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0