Final

Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/1

Game 1: Wednesday, November 1st
Clippers104Final
Suns112
Game 2: Saturday, November 4th
Suns108Final
Clippers114
Game 3: Tuesday, February 20th
Suns115Final
Clippers90
Game 4: Tuesday, April 17th
Clippers103Final
Suns99

Suns 115

(40-13, 20-7 away)

Clippers 90

(25-29, 17-10 home)

    Coverage: TNT

    7:30 PM ET, February 20, 2007

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 38 24 30 23115
    LAC 26 19 23 2290

    Top Performers

    PHX: S. Marion 31 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    LAC: C. Maggette 19 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast

    Nash returns, helps Suns coast to rout of Clippers

    ESPN.com news services

    LOS ANGELES -- Steve Nash returned and restored order to the Phoenix Suns.

    Two-time MVP Nash had 13 points and 12 assists in his first game back from a shoulder injury, and Shawn Marion scored 31 points in the Suns' 115-90 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

    "On a personal level, it's nice to just be out there with your teammates, and as a group, it's a lot of fun to win after three straight losses," said Nash, who missed four games with inflammation in his right shoulder.

    "It's maybe good for us that we suffered a little bit, and hopefully we can regroup here."

    Marion obviously was glad to have Nash back orchestrating the show.

    "He came out there, he kept the ball moving and everybody was making their passes," said Marion, who also had nine rebounds. "It was free-flowing and that's how everything happens. That's why we won.

    "We were active, everybody was helping each other, we were more stable and didn't have to rotate as much."

    Nash had been out since the shoulder soreness sidelined him for the second half of a victory at Denver on Feb. 5.

    He looked the same as always in his return, driving the lane and dishing off assists to his teammates, and mixing it up by pulling up and hitting jumpers. In the fourth quarter, with the Suns up big, he was tripped up driving and fell to the floor. He reached for his shoulder. On the next possession, Nash stepped up and took a charge. He hit the floor hard and left the game after playing 28 minutes. After the contest, however, he said he felt all right.

    Nash had a big first quarter, with eight points and seven assists, to help the Suns jump out to a 38-26 lead. They stayed comfortably in front the rest of the way.

    On a play in the first quarter that drew a collective "Ah-h-h" from the pro-Clippers crowd, Nash made a no-look pass off the dribble to set up a dunk by Amare Stoudemire charging down the lane.

    Stoudemire, who had 22 points and nine rebounds, said, "Our ball movement starts with Steve Nash, and once we get set, we swing it. Then the defense has a tough time keeping up with all of our weapons."

    The slumping Clippers, who lost their fourth in a row, were led by Corey Maggette's 19 points and seven rebounds. Elton Brand, back after sitting out two games because of back spasms, had 17 points and five rebounds.

    Brand said the lopsided loss was every bit as bad as it looked.

    "They didn't make it look worse than it was; that is how bad it was," Brand said. "They had backdoor cuts for laups, guys getting open shots, and hustle plays. [Shawn] Marion is an All-Star player, but 12 of his points were tip-ins on balls that we weren't getting from them.

    "It's about the easy stuff, and with the type of players that they have, we needed to limit the amount of easy stuff."

    The Clippers were missing swing man Cuttino Mobley (left groin strain) and center Chris Kaman (flu-like symptoms).

    Phoenix forward Boris Diaw sat out his third consecutive game with back spasms.

    Marion had 10 points in the third quarter and Phoenix had a 92-68 cushion heading into the fourth.

    He had 18 first-half points, Stoudemire had 16 and Phoenix was up 62-45 at the break. Nash had nine points and eight assists by halftime, but just one point and one assist in the second period after his fast start.

    Brand had 13 points and Maggette 10 for Los Angeles in the first half.

    Nash didn't waste any time in his first game back, scoring six points and getting three assists in the opening six minutes to help the Suns take a quick 17-10 lead.

    They sprinted ahead 33-19 and were up 38-26 at the end of the quarter after going 14-of-18 from the floor. Nash had eight points and seven rebounds in the opening 12 minutes.

    Game notes


    G Doug Christie, who signed a second 10-day contract with the Clippers on Feb. 11 and was contractually bound to them through Tuesday night's game, was put on the suspended list. He informed the Clippers over the weekend that he no longer wanted to play for them. He becomes eligible to sign with another team. ... Reserve C Kurt Thomas returned for the Suns and had four points. He had missed 15 games since injuring his elbow against Memphis on Jan. 15.

    Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    PHX
    LAC
    Points 115 90
    FGM-FGA 45-84 (.536) 37-86 (.430)
    3PM-3PA 8-18 (.444) 6-19 (.316)
    FTM-FTA 17-22 (.773) 10-18 (.556)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-50 12-38
    Assists 31 20
    Turnovers 14 15
    Steals 8 8
    Blocks 4 6
    Fast Break Points 11 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (1/1) 22 (3/1)
    Largest Lead 26 4

    Top Performers

    Phoenix
    Los Angeles
    Shawn Marion Marion
    Points: 31
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 2
    Corey Maggette Maggette
    Points: 19
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0