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Clippers Please Their Crowd

Pro basketball: Home finale turns into festive 100-80 victory that hampers Suns.


The Phoenix Suns discovered what five other playoff-bound teams have found out since the all-star break: Don't mess with the Clippers at Staples Center.

In their final home game of the season, the Clippers treated their 11th sellout crowd to a show that included a 20-minute lovefest following their 100-80 victory over Phoenix on Monday night.

Maybe the most important aspect of the Clippers' win was that the Suns were prevented from clinching the sixth seed in the playoffs to perhaps avoid the Lakers in a first-round series. The loss dropped Phoenix to 50-31, the same record as Portland. Both teams have one game remaining.

The Suns had to wonder what hit them as the Clippers dominated so much that a crowd of 19,347 performed the wave with five minutes remaining.

Afterward, the players gave away Clipper gear and celebrated all over the court. Lamar Odom, who fell one assist shy of his fifth triple-double of the season, danced with Darius Miles on top of the scorer's table as fans refused to leave Staples Center.

"When the fans did the wave and wouldn't stop, that was so special," said Odom, who had 18 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. "At a Clipper game? I'm serious, I never even heard of that done at a pro basketball game before."

Center Michael Olowokandi, who had 13 points and nine rebounds, was nearly speechless.

"I've never witnessed anything like that as far as fan support," Olowokandi said. "They were so happy for us. Things like that make you want to go beyond the call of duty to help out this basketball team and organization. To know that those guys are on your side. I don't think the Lakers have fans like that. This was very, very special and makes you want to come back next season and give everything you have."

The Clippers, who have also defeated Portland, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Minnesota at home since Feb. 23, dominated from the start in splitting their season-series with Phoenix at 2-2.

The Clippers, who shot 51.2%, led by seven points after one quarter, 19 at halftime and 27 after three quarters. The Clippers' 74-45 lead late in the third quarter was their biggest lead of the season.

Point guard Jeff McInnis had 20 points and tied a career-high with 13 assists, and Miles had 11 points, four rebounds and three blocked shots.

Shawn Marion led the Suns with 18 points.

The Clippers, who finished 13-3 in their last 16 games at home, will finish their season tonight when they play the Jazz at Utah. But they will always remember their season finale at Staples Center.

"This was fun for all of us," Odom said about the Clippers, who have won three in a row and improved to 31-50 overall. "We wanted to wrap it up the right way and we were able to do that."

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