Final / 2OT

Phoenix wins series 4-3 (Game 5 of 7)

Phoenix wins series 4-3

Game 1: Monday, May 8th
Game 2: Wednesday, May 10th
Game 3: Friday, May 12th
Game 4: Sunday, May 14th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 16th
Game 6: Thursday, May 18th
Game 7: Monday, May 22nd

Clippers 118

(47-35, 20-21 away)

Suns 125

(54-28, 31-10 home)

7:30 PM ET, May 16, 2006

US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

1 2 3 4 OT 2OT T
LAC 31 21 26 23 10 7118
PHX 26 32 26 17 10 14125

Top Performers

LAC: E. Brand 33 Pts, 15 Reb, 5 Ast, 5 Blk

PHX: S. Marion 36 Pts, 20 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

Marion leads Suns past Clips in 2 OTs; L.A. on brink

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns mixed exhaustion with elation Tuesday night, and are one victory away from a second straight trip to the Western Conference finals.

Shawn Marion had 36 points and a career playoff-high 20 rebounds in 54 grueling minutes, and Raja Bell sank a dramatic 3-pointer to help the Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 125-118 in two overtimes.

The Suns, who blew a 19-point third-quarter lead before regrouping, took a 3-2 lead in the series and can advance with a victory in Game 6 Thursday night in Los Angeles.

"So many guys gutted it out for us," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We weren't brilliant. But a lot of the time in the playoffs it's not about being pretty and making all the right plays. It's about perseverence and a little sweat, and I think we did that."

Bell added 22 points, including a 3-pointer from the corner with 1.1 seconds left to tie it in the first overtime. He told his teammates during a timeout that he was going to make the shot.

"That's kind of out of character for me," Bell said, "but I called it."

Leandro Barbosa scored five of his 15 points in the second overtime for Phoenix.

Elton Brand had 33 points and 15 rebounds in 54 minutes, and Sam Cassell scored 32 -- 27 in the second half and two overtimes -- but the Clippers never led in the second extra session.

"That's the most disappointing game I've been a part of," Brand said. "We had it."

Marion's rebound stuff with 3:17 to play put Phoenix ahead 115-113. He landed awkwardly in traffic and limped off the floor with an apparent left ankle injury. But he was back less than a minute later.

Barbosa's first 3-pointer of the game gave Phoenix a 119-115 lead, then Brand's rebound and three-point play cut it to 119-118 with 1:22 left. After a timeout, Steve Nash fed Marion for a layup 1:05 from the end. Barbosa's two free throws made it 123-118 with 52.3 seconds to play.

Nash sealed it with two free throws 19.5 seconds from the end.

Nash had 17 points and 13 assists but was 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. He hasn't made a 3 since the series opener, going 0-for-13 since.

Playing his 11th playoff game in 20 days, Nash acknowledged that his body is hurting.

"I'm physically not really able to shoot a good percentage at this point in time," Nash said. "Even mid-range shots are a long way for me now the way I feel physically. I'm just trying to fight through it."

Tim Thomas had 25 points for Phoenix, including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers, but fouled out with 1:12 to play in the first overtime.

Cassell sent the game into overtime with a 3-pointer with 39.8 seconds to play in regulation, then sank a 16-footer to put Los Angeles ahead 109-106 with 39.8 seconds left in the first overtime.

Nash, who had two turnovers in the final 54 seconds of the first overtime, scored inside to cut it to 109-108, then Cassell's two free throws put Los Angeles up 111-108 with 3.6 seconds to go.

After two timeouts, the Suns got the ball to Bell in the corner, and his 3-pointer over Daniel Ewing -- playing for the first time all night -- tied it with 1.1 seconds remaining. Although the Clippers had a foul to give, Bell caught the ball and shot it. Ewing said he didn't want to foul Bell to risk a four-point play.

Coach Mike Dunleavy said he understood Ewing's thinking.

But Cassell, on the bench at the time, saw it otherwise.

"We had a young guy in the game. It's not his fault that Raja made his shot, but we've got to know better in that situation," Cassell said. "We've got a foul to give, we've got to put Raja Bell in the fifth row with the popcorn man, but we didn't do it."

Shaun Livingston threw the inbounds pass away and the Suns got the last chance of the first OT, but Marion's heave from just inside midcourt bounced off the rim.

The end of regulation wasn't pretty.

Cassell was called for an 8-second backcourt violation with 31 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. Nash missed a 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds to go, then Cassell missed a 3 at the other end with 3 seconds left.

Thomas, apparently unaware there was that much time left, heaved the ball downcourt as coach Mike D'Antoni screamed at him for a timeout, and the game went to overtime.

Bell boosted the lead to 101-96 with a 3-pointer with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter, then the Suns didn't score again the rest of regulation.

Nash missed a 20-footer and Brand sank two free throws to cut it to 101-98 with 2:22 remaining.

Brand missed two free throws with 1:46 to play, but again Phoenix couldn't take advantage. Marion muffed an inside shot, then couldn't control the rebound. Cassell's game-tying 3-point try misfired, but the Suns knocked the rebound out of bounds with 42.5 seconds remaining.

Cassell sank a 3-pointer from the corner with 39.8 seconds to go to tie it at 101. Then Marion had a breakaway but was fouled hard from behind by Brand and missed both free throws.

Chris Kaman, who sat out Game 4 with a strained right shoulder, had two injections of Toradal, a pain killer and anti-inflammatory, on Tuesday and was in the starting lineup. He had 11 points and 10 rebounds early, but had only two points and one board after that, sitting out most of the second half.

Game notes

Noted Lakers fan Jack Nicholson was on hand to root on the other Los Angeles team from a seat behind the Clippers' bench. ... The Suns never have lost a best-of-seven series when they've split the first four games and had the home-court advantage. ... In the last two games, Bell is 12-of-19 from 3-point range.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 118 125
FGM-FGA 42-103 (.408) 49-107 (.458)
3PM-3PA 9-20 (.450) 11-29 (.379)
FTM-FTA 25-32 (.781) 16-21 (.762)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 20-57 14-50
Assists 14 29
Turnovers 17 13
Steals 6 7
Blocks 9 5
Fast Break Points 2 15
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 22 (0/0)
Largest Lead 7 19

Top Performers

Los Angeles
Elton Brand Brand
Points: 33
Reb: 15
Ast: 5
Stl: 0
Blk: 5
Shawn Marion Marion
Points: 36
Reb: 20
Ast: 3
Stl: 0
Blk: 1