Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/13

Game 1: Saturday, December 13th
Game 2: Monday, December 29th
Game 3: Tuesday, March 16th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 13th

Suns 91

(8-15, 2-8 away)

Clippers 106

(8-11, 6-5 home)

    Coverage: FSPI

    7:30 PM ET, December 13, 2003

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 27 20 26 1891
    LAC 26 35 29 16106

    Top Performers

    PHX: S. Marbury 30 Pts, 7 Reb, 9 Ast, 5 Stl, 1 Blk

    LAC: C. Maggette 23 Pts, 7 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

    Los Angeles 106, Phoenix 91

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Clippers learned a valuable lesson in their previous game, when they fell behind by 20 in the first nine minutes before winning on a buzzer-beater. They now realize it's better to be the team being chased.

    Quentin Richardson scored 25 points and Corey Maggette had 23 for the Clippers, who build a 23-point lead in the third quarter and fought off a late rally by the Phoenix Suns for a 106-91 victory Saturday night. Elton Brand had 21 points and 14 rebounds in his fifth game back from a stress fracture in his right foot.

    "We came out and got a good jump on them, played with a lot of intensity and didn't have a lackluster start," Richardson said. "Elton dominated the boards, and that's what we were missing while he was out. It seemed like every time you turned around, he came up with a big rebound."

    Stephon Marbury had 30 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Suns, who were outrebounded 53-36 and shot 2-for-14 from 3-point range. They're 2-0 since Mike D'Antoni was promoted to head coach after Frank Johnson was fired Wednesday.

    "We got killed on the glass again tonight. But since we're playing smaller, we know we're going to get beat on the glass," Scott Williams said. "So we need to be a little quicker to loose balls and try to take more advantage of fast-break points."

    The Suns' fifth straight loss kept them in the Western Conference cellar, two games behind the Clippers. By no small coincidence, Amare Stoudemire missed his fifth game because of a sprained left ankle. Last season's rookie of the year isn't expected back until early next month.

    It has been a difficult week for the Suns without Stoudemire. On Monday night, they blew a 22-point lead to Orlando in a loss that ended the Magic's 19-game losing streak. The following night, they scored only 72 points against Miami -- the fifth-lowest total in franchise history. Thursday, in their first game after changing coaches, they surrendered a season-worst 111 points to the Charlotte Hornets and had a season-low 25 rebounds.

    "Having Amare is a big difference -- rebounding offense, blocking shots, just his presence on the court," Marbury said. "But this is the NBA, and if somebody goes down, it's an opportunity for somebody else. And right now, that opportunity is not being filled."

    The Clippers committed six of their 20 turnovers during a 13-2 Phoenix run that reduced the Suns' 20-point deficit to 95-86. Williams' 15-foot baseline jumper capped the rally with 5:17 to play.

    But that was as close as it got. Maggette stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer 14 seconds later -- only the second of four field goals by the Clippers in the quarter.

    "In the fourth quarter we made some turnovers and missed shots, they got some rebounds and made some plays. Then we had to step up to the challenge," Maggette said. "Last year we lost a lot of games like this, but we're getting better because we understand we've got to continue to play our game while they're trying to catch us."

    Marko Jaric hit a pair of 20-footers a minute apart during a 16-6 run and Brand capped the rally with a short turnaround jumper to give Los Angeles its biggest lead, 86-83, with three minutes left in the third.

    "Our defense has seemed to be letting us down in the second and third quarters, and it's been kind of a theme for us," Williams said. "They had 90 points through three quarters, and that's just too many."

    Coming off a one-point victory over Dallas in which they won on Glen Rice's buzzer-beating jumper, the Clippers enjoyed their highest-scoring half of the season. They used 13 points each from Maggette and Brand and 51.1-percent shooting to build a 61-47 lead.

    Rookie center Chris Kaman, who was benched 10 minutes into the Dallas game after the Clippers fell behind by 20 points, made his first four shots against Phoenix after replacing Chris Wilcox with 5:21 left in the first quarter. Kaman's dunk over Shawn Marion capped a 12-0 run that turned a one-point deficit into a 38-27 lead with 8:26 left in the half.

    Game notes

    D'Antoni's only other stint as an NBA head coach was during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, when he was 14-36 with Denver. He got his first win with the Nuggets on his fifth try. ... The Clippers are 7-5 against Phoenix since dropping their previous 12 meetings against them. The only players left on the Clippers' roster from that losing streak are Richardson, Maggette and Keyon Dooling -- all of whom were only on board for loss No. 12. ... Marion, averaging 24.8 points and 12.2 rebounds in the five games Stoudemire has missed, was averaging 15 points and 7.9 rebounds before Stoudemire's injury.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 91 106
    FGM-FGA 35-86 (.407) 39-82 (.476)
    3PM-3PA 2-14 (.143) 4-9 (.444)
    FTM-FTA 19-24 (.792) 24-30 (.800)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-36 16-53
    Assists 19 20
    Turnovers 11 20
    Steals 9 6
    Blocks 3 3
    Fast Break Points 3 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (1/0) 22 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Stephon Marbury Marbury
    Points: 30
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 5
    Blk: 1
    Corey Maggette Maggette
    Points: 23
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0