Nash Returns to Spark Suns Past Clippers
Sunday, March 20, 2011; 6:05 PM
LOS ANGELES -- Steve Nash had 23 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds, Channing Frye added 19 points and the Phoenix Suns surged early in the fourth quarter for a 108-99 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Frye hit two of his five 3-pointers in the final minutes of his second game back from a dislocated right shoulder for the Suns, who have won 10 of their last 11 meetings with the Clippers.
Blake Griffin scored 17 points before fouling out on an offensive foul with 4:09 left for the Clippers, who have lost three of four. Chris Kaman had 21 points and 11 rebounds while starting for DeAndre Jordan, who sat out with pneumonia.
Nash showed no ill effects from a trip home to Vancouver on Saturday to attend the inaugural game of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Nash is a part-owner of the MLS expansion franchise, and he banged a drum in the Empire Field stands while wearing a Whitecaps scarf and a No. 13 jersey before jetting back to Los Angeles.
Nash also isn't slowing down after a recent two-game absence to rest his injured pelvis. He followed up a strong game against Golden State on Friday night with an even better effort against the Clippers, only missing a triple-double because he couldn't get a rebound in the second half.
After Phoenix broke open a tight game by scoring the first eight points of the fourth quarter, Griffin fouled out when he rattled home a jaw-dropping, one-handed dunk over Marcin Gortat, who appeared to be moving on the play. The rookie All-Star then got a technical foul for holding onto the ball in disbelief after referee Steve Javie's call, and Nash's free throw put the Suns ahead by 14 points.
The call finally enlivened the Staples Center crowd, which vociferously booed the Suns' next few possessions. The Clippers scored the next five points, but Frye hit a 3-pointer with 2:26 left.
Frye added another 3-pointer with 50 seconds left after the Clippers had cut Phoenix's lead to seven points. The sharpshooting big man wore a bulky brace to support the shoulder he hurt March 6.
Gortat had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns (35-33), who pulled back within two games of eighth-place Memphis (38-32) in the Western Conference playoff picture. Chris Dudley added 14 points, hitting two 3-pointers.
Phoenix played without backup point guard Aaron Brooks, who served a one-game suspension for hitting an official with the ball during the Suns' win over Golden State on Friday night.
Mo Williams had 18 points and seven assists as the Clippers played without Jordan, who spent the night in Marina Del Rey hospital with what the team called a mild case of pneumonia. The shot-blocking center was released from the hospital during the game.
Leading scorer Eric Gordon also struggled in his fourth game back from his latest absence with his injured right wrist, scoring just 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
Led by Nash's 15 points and seven assists, the Suns led by 10 points early and went into halftime up 54-49 after making 51 percent of their shots with just two turnovers.
After Griffin got 30 points in his highest-scoring performance since the All-Star break during the Clippers' win over Cleveland on Saturday, the All-Star struggled again, going 6 for 18.
NOTES: Jordan hadn't missed a game this season. Griffin, Ryan Gomes and Eric Bledsoe have appeared in all 71 games for Los Angeles. ... The Suns will stay in town to play the Lakers on Tuesday.