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Suns Run Past Clippers (113-94)

Tonight's game followed a familiar plot line for those of us who have been watching the Suns regularly the past few seasons:

  1. The Suns face a team that on paper should be vastly inferior due to injuries or lack of talent (the former applying in this case).
  2. The game stays close in the first half as the underdog opposing team valiantly hangs in there, and maybe even leads at the break.
  3. The Suns blow the game open in the third quarter.
  4. The opposition gets somewhat back into it in the fourth, but never really threatens again.
That's pretty much what we saw tonight. The shorthanded Clippers made a game of it in the first half with Sam Cassell looking downright unstoppable and Chris Kaman taking advantage of Amare Stoudemire's unfortunate tendency to pick up early fouls. The Clippers led by a point at halftime, but they were no match for the Suns in the second half. The Suns outscored the Clippers 35-22 in the third quarter, and even though the Clippers kept the margin too close for garbage time duty in the fourth, the Suns held them comfortably at arms length the rest of the way. The Suns closed out the game on an 11-0 run in the last two minutes, making the final score look a lot more blowout-like than it really was. But this game was decided in the third quarter: Typical. Suns. Basketball.

Player of the Game: This is a very tough call, but I'm going with Shawn Marion. He got some very timely steals and rebounds that were key in closing out the Clips for good. Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash are also good candidates.

Runner-Up: Sam Cassell. He looked more like 28 years old than 38 en route to 26 points on a 9-of-16 shooting night.

Grading the Game: B first half + A second half = A- overall.

Update: Props to ClipperSteve at Clips Nation for mentioning something in his recap that I forgot. The Suns out-rebounded the Clippers 52-41. A big part of the credit for this goes to Boris Diaw, who seemed to be making an extra effort to hit the boards, and ended up with 11 rebounds to go with Amare's 11 and Shawn's 17. When the Suns can put three guys in double-digit rebounds, there's a good chance the game ends in a "W". More, please.

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