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CLIPPERS-SUNS REPORT

Ross Proves to Be a Force on Offense

May 19, 2006|Jason Reid and Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writers

Quinton Ross can score.

The Clippers swingman usually does his best work on defense, but Ross was a catalyst on offense for the Clippers in their 118-106 victory Thursday night over the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals at Staples Center.

Ross scored a career-high 18 points in a nine-for-14 shooting performance from the field. He was the biggest story of the first half as the Clippers took a 62-50 lead into the break.

"He's got offense," Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He shoots a good medium-range jumper and has a good post-up game. It was good for him to come alive tonight."

At halftime, Ross had already scored 16 points -- on eight-for-10 shooting -- to set a personal record. His long jumper to beat the final buzzer of the second quarter ignited the crowd, prompting fans seated along the left sideline to high-five Ross as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

"If we're going to pick a poison out there, somebody who has to beat us, it's going to be Quinton Ross," Phoenix guard Raja Bell said. "He came through tonight. Good for him."

The Suns assigned point guard Steve Nash to guard Ross, and Ross scored consistently against Nash in the low post.

The Clippers tried to capitalize against Nash inside in Game 5, but Corey Maggette couldn't get into rhythm on offense against the smaller player.

Ross fared much better.

"It's a challenge every night to try to shut him down," Ross said. "On offense, I just tried to go right at him."

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Maggette played only 17 minutes and scored eight points in Tuesday's 125-118 double-overtime loss at Phoenix.

He bounced back well in Game 6, contributing 25 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes while also making several big plays on defense.

"This whole series has been tough," Maggette said. "It's been a hard fight. Both teams are playing well."

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Elgin Baylor was presented with the NBA's executive of the year award before Game 6 at Staples Center. Baylor, in his 20th season with the Clippers, finished ahead of Bryan Colangelo, who left the Phoenix Suns for the Toronto Raptors in February, in voting conducted by the Sporting News, which sponsors the award.

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The Suns' best player over the last two weeks hasn't necessarily been Steve Nash or Shawn Marion. The honor probably goes to Bell.

"Definitely since he clotheslined Kobe [Bryant] ... since then, he's just been unbelievable," Suns Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I don't know if it's because he thinks he owes the team something or wants to pay them back or what. He was good all year. He's gone up to another level."

Bell drew a one-game suspension for his foul on Bryant.

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