Archive for Friday, May 12, 2006

Clippers’ size can stop speedy Suns

May 12, 2006

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— Though formal practice was over, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman weren't finished, receiving passes from Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Kim Hughes, taking dozens of shots from close range and making most of them.

If Thursday's scene sounds familiar, it should. That was pretty much the story a night earlier in Phoenix - the Los Angeles big men making shot after shot in a 122-97 victory over the Suns to even the Western Conference semifinal series 1-1.

No defense didn't hinder the Clippers much more than the Suns' defense did.

"That's what happens when they go small," Kaman said. "They get hurt in the post. Inside, they don't (match up)."

It didn't matter in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals, when the Suns ran the Clippers ragged in winning a 130-123 decision.

Game 2 was another story, and at least some of the inside success of Brand and Kaman could be attributed to the fine outside shooting of guards Cuttino Mobley (9-of-16) and Sam Cassell (8-of-12).

Oh, and there was the staggering rebounding differential: Clippers 57, Suns 26.

"It's the same always," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said of his team's size disadvantage. "It's going to come down to, can we run so hard and make the extra effort, and tip balls out? We didn't have that extra pop in our step, and we're not going to win if we don't."

The next game will be played tonight at Staples Center, where the Clippers went 27-14 during the regular season and 3-0 against Denver in the first round of the playoffs.

Brand, who shot 18-of-22 for 40 points in Game 1, went 10-of-16 for 27 points in Game 2. Kaman was 6-of-8 for 14 points, and also had 16 rebounds.

So what can the Suns do in Game 3?

"Hopefully, we can get this series longer and longer to where hopefully we can run their legs out from under them," NBA MVP Steve Nash said.

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