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Clippers End Losing Streak at 13

Suns are the answer again, but it doesn't come easily as Wilcox's putback at the buzzer wins it, 98-96.

April 14, 2004|From Associated Press

PHOENIX — The Clippers can't beat anybody -- except the Phoenix Suns.

Chris Wilcox's rebound basket at the buzzer ended the Clippers' 13-game losing streak in a 98-96 victory over the Suns on Tuesday night.

The last team the Clippers beat was the Suns on March 16 in Phoenix.

"It's important for our guys to play hard and be rewarded for that," Clipper Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We've been playing without four to five guys every night for the last 15 games."

Wilcox scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 25 minutes in his second game back from an Achilles' tendon injury.

"I was out for like four weeks," he said. "For me to come back and have a game like this is a great feeling."

Wilcox put the Clippers up, 96-93, on a tip-in with 16 seconds to play.

Shawn Marion sank his fourth three-pointer of the fourth quarter to tie it at 96-96. Quentin Richardson drove the lane but missed, and Wilcox kept the ball alive with several tips inside before getting one to fall.

"We fought back," the Suns' Amare Stoudemire said, "but Wilcox hit a lucky shot and they got a lucky win."

Referee Blane Reichelt reviewed the play on videotape before signaling the shot good.

The Clippers outscored the Suns, 54-36, in the paint and 25-14 on second-chance points.

"Coach told us we had to be physical down low in the post against these guys," Wilcox said, "and that's what we did."

Elton Brand, apparently headed for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, had 30 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who blew a 15-point second-half lead before pulling it out.

Marion scored 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. Stoudemire, in a fierce power-forward battle with Brand, had 29 points and 14 rebounds. Leandro Barbosa scored 17, including 14 in the second half.

The loss, in a game far more intense than would be expected from two teams headed nowhere, dropped the Suns into a tie with the Clippers for last place in the Western Conference with each team having one game to play.

"Nobody wants to be in last place," Marion said.

Phoenix guard Joe Johnson finished with nine points, ending his string of 42 consecutive double-figure games. He played 45 minutes, though, his 34th consecutive 40-plus-minute game -- the most since Wilt Chamberlain's 34 straight in 1970.

"They kept battling," Phoenix Coach Mike D'Antoni said of the Clippers. "They had a lot more second-chance points. They played a little bit tougher than us in the paint, and we gave it up."

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