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Strategy session

Suns-Clips Game 5 classic sets up intriguing rematch

Posted: Thursday May 18, 2006 12:55PM; Updated: Thursday May 18, 2006 10:33PM
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Sam Cassell can expect to receive plenty of attention from a variety of Suns defenders in Game 6 of the Western semifinals.
Sam Cassell can expect to receive plenty of attention from a variety of Suns defenders in Game 6 of the Western semifinals.
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images
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Game 5 of the Phoenix Suns-Los Angeles Clippers Western Conference semifinal provided several of those memorable moments fans will be talking about for years. Those who saw it that is. On the morning after the game, I was deluged by e-mails and calls, half of which said, "Do you believe that?" and the other half of which said, "What happened?" The Suns 125-118 double-overtime victory didn't end until about 2:20 a.m. in the Eastern time zone.

If you didn't see it, the twists and turns of the game are too numerous to mention, but here are a few of them:

The Suns won despite the fact that the game's reigning two-time MVP, Steve Nash, had a hard time making a play in the second half.

The Clippers lost partly because their headiest and most experienced player, Sam Cassell, was hit with an eight-second call (not getting the ball over halfcourt within eight seconds), which is rare in any case but almost unheard of when the opposition is not applying fullcourt pressure. Cassell, always the gamesman, was smiling widely when the ref's whistle turned that grin outside in.

The Suns won partly because Raja Bell, a shooting guard known more for his defense, predicted in the huddle that he would hit a buzzer-beating three-point shot from the corner to send the game into double overtime, then went out and did it.

The Clippers lost despite the fact that power forward Elton Brand (33 points, 15 rebounds) was nearly unstoppable.

The Suns won partly because forward Shawn Marion, inconsistent in the first four games, had 36 points and 20 rebounds.

The Clippers lost despite the fact that they turned 20 offensive rebounds into 25 second-chance points and shot three-pointers almost as well (Phoenix made 11, the Clips 9) as the Suns, who this season made more threes than any other team in NBA history.

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