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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.