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Rest the story: Refreshed Suns run away with Game 7

PHOENIX (AP) -- Steve Nash's aching back was a whole lot better, and that led to a painful night for the Los Angeles Clippers in the biggest game in that franchise's mostly sorry history.

With Nash back in MVP form -- 29 points and 11 assists -- and 3-pointers falling like a welcome desert rain for Phoenix, the Suns routed the Clippers 127-107 on Monday night to advance to the Western Conference finals for the second year in a row.

Game 1 is Wednesday night in Dallas.

Nash, 2-for-18 on 3s in the previous five games as he struggled with a chronically bad back, was obviously feeling better after three days of rest and treatment.

"With the help of our training staff I was able to overcome some physical problems I've had and I did feel a lot better tonight," Nash said.

Nash was 4-of-5 on 3s.

"When he made that first 3-pointer," the Clippers' Corey Maggette said, "I knew we were in for a long night."

Nash made 11 of 16 shots, twisting his way to layups and moving with much more energy than in recent games.

So was the rest of his team.

Seven players scored in double figures for the Suns, who shot 60 percent overall and made 15 of 27 3-pointers.

Shawn Marion had 30 points -- including 5-of-9 3s.

"Everybody was stepping up tonight. Everybody was knocking down shots," Marion said. "I don't care. I could have had five points and if we win, that's all that matters."

Leandro Barbosa added 18 points, Tim Thomas 16 and Boris Diaw
14. Raja Bell and James Jones scored 10 apiece.

"We played close to what we wanted to do for a while," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said, "but when they shoot the 3-pointer the way they shot tonight, I don't know who can beat them."

Elton Brand capped a magnificent playoffs with 36 points and nine rebounds, and Corey Maggette added 18 points for the Clippers, who won a playoff series for the first time in 30 years and despite the loss shed their perennial loser image.

"It was a coming out party for myself and teammates," Brand said. "We're only going to get better. We've got a lot of young guys on our team that are going to improve."

They were the second Los Angeles team to lose decisively in a Game 7 in Phoenix in these playoffs. The Suns beat the Lakers 121-90 in Game 7 of their first-round series 16 days earlier.

Another trip for Phoenix to the conference finals came despite the loss of All-Star Amare Stoudemire for all but three games this season, coupled with the absence of injured center Kurt Thomas the last three months.

"We had a great Game 7," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Shawn was hitting his 3s, and when he is doing that he is really dangerous. Overall, it's hard to pick one guy. Whoever you pick, go ahead and I will agree with you."

The result was an extremely small team that relied on speed, shooting and the ball-handling skills of Nash to succeed.

"We run, run, run," Thomas said, "and those three days off really helped us. We were able to go out and run and play our style of basketball."

The Clippers, trying to make the conference finals for the first time in the franchise's history, fell behind in the final 37 seconds of the first quarter and never could catch up.

Phoenix stretched an eight-point halftime lead to 15 after three, then blew the game open early in the fourth.

Los Angeles cut it to six twice in the third quarter, the last at 77-71 on Quinton Ross' stuff with 8:37 to go. But Diaw sank a 16-footer and Marion a 3-pointer to make it 82-71.

Barbosa's 3 put the Suns ahead 85-75, then after Ross scored inside, Nash was fouled on a drive and Maggette was called for a technical. Nash made two of the three free throws, then scored on a fast-break pass from Barbosa to put Phoenix ahead 89-77 with 2:26 to go in the third.

Barbosa's 3-pointer, followed by his driving layup, gave the Suns their biggest lead of the night to that point, 94-79 entering the fourth quarter. Jones' 3-pointer to start the final period gave Phoenix a 97-79 lead.

Game notes
Jones was 1-for-19 before sinking a 16-footer in the first quarter. ... Kurt Thomas was not in uniform despite scrimmaging with the Suns on Sunday. ... The Clippers committed six turnovers in the first quarter but only six the rest of the game. ... After being dominated on the boards throughout the series, the Suns equaled the Clippers' total with 32 and outscored Los Angeles 13-12 in second-chance points. ... Phoenix also made consecutive trips to the conference finals in 1989 and '90. ... The 15 3s were the most for the Suns in the playoffs this season. ... The Suns are 4-0 in elimination games in this year's playoffs.