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CLIPPERS 118, SUNS 106

Clippers draw even

Suns can't keep pace in Game 6

LOS ANGELES -- Elton Brand and the Clippers became the second team from Los Angeles to take the Phoenix Suns to the limit in these playoffs.

Unlike the Lakers, the Clippers will take some momentum into Game 7.

Brand had 30 points and 12 rebounds, Corey Maggette came off the bench to score 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers beat the Suns, 118-106, last night to even the Western Conference semifinal series at three games apiece.

The Suns seemed a step slower than usual at times, understandable since they've played every other day since April 26 -- a total of 12 games in 22 days.

They'll get some time off now, since Game 7 isn't until Monday night in Phoenix, where the second-seeded Suns beat the sixth-seeded Clippers in two of the three previous playoff meetings, including a 125-118 double-overtime triumph in Game 5.

The teams have alternated victories in the series, with the Suns winning Games 1, 3, and 5 and the Clippers winning Games 2, 4, and 6.

The Lakers took a 3-1 lead in the first round before the Suns came back, becoming the eighth NBA team to overcome such a deficit.

The home team has a 76-17 advantage in NBA playoff Game 7s, including Phoenix's 121-90 victory over the Lakers May 6. But the Clippers played the Suns tough in all three playoff games in Phoenix, winning one and coming close in the other two.

The Suns are trying to reach the Western Conference finals for the second straight season and the eighth time overall. They lost to the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in five games last spring.

The Clippers have won two playoff series in their history, and never made it past the second round.

Quinton Ross, starting in place of Maggette, added a career-high 18 points, Chris Kaman had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Sam Cassell added 15 points and 8 assists for the Clippers, who shot 61.5 percent and outrebounded the Suns, 48-28.

''Got to love it, got to love it, baby," Cassell said. ''We survived to play another game. We survived to play a Game 7. My team is so excited about playing a Game 7. There's no fear."

Shawn Marion had 34 points and nine rebounds to lead the Suns, who shot 44 percent. Leonardo Barbosa added 25 points, Steve Nash had 17 points and 11 assists, Boris Diaw had 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists, and Raja Bell scored 13.

Bell, who averaged 22.2 points and shot 55.6 percent in the first five games of this series, shot 2 of 9.

Maggette scored 10 points, including the Clippers' only two 3-pointers of the game during a 17-7 run to begin the fourth quarter, giving the Clippers a 105-88 lead. The Suns weren't closer than 11 points after that.

The Clippers scored 6 straight points for a 16-point lead late in the third quarter -- the largest of the game to that point. It was 86-70 when Barbosa made two 3-pointers and Marion another in a 70-second span to draw the Suns within 7.

The Clippers shot 62 percent to Phoenix's 41 percent, and outrebounded the Suns, 26-17, in the first half in taking a 62-50 lead. Ross had 16 points at that stage -- one more than his previous career high in two seasons plus these playoffs.

Barbosa outscored Los Angeles, 13-2, at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second, giving the Suns a 34-31 lead. The Clippers responded with an 11-2 run that put them ahead for good.

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