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CLIPPERS-SUNS REPORT

Cassell Is Expecting a Determined Effort

May 21, 2006|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

The Clippers returned to work Saturday in preparation for playing the Phoenix Suns in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals Monday at US Airways Center.

The team had Friday off after Thursday's 118-106 victory over the Suns in Game 6 at Staples Center, but Coach Mike Dunleavy led a long practice session Saturday at El Segundo.

The Clippers are scheduled to practice again today and travel to Phoenix tonight. With the series tied, 3-3, point guard Sam Cassell said the Clippers are eager to play the decisive game in what's expected to be a hostile environment.

"We've got our work cut out for us, but we understand that, and that's the good thing about it," Cassell said.

"You're going to see a determined team ready to take the court Monday night. We've just got to relax, understand our coverages on defense, and our offense will take care of itself."

Teams with home-court advantage in Game 7 have won 81.7% of series.

The Suns routed the Lakers at US Airways Center in the seventh game of their first-round series, and could become the first NBA team to win at least two seven-game series in one postseason since the Dallas Mavericks accomplished the feat in the 2003 playoffs. Phoenix's starting backcourt of Steve Nash and Raja Bell were on that team.

Against the Lakers, the Suns became the eighth team in league history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in winning a best-of-seven series.

Phoenix also rallied to win Game 5 of this series -- 125-118 in double overtime -- on its home court despite trailing by three points with 3.6 seconds remaining in the first overtime.

"We thought we could beat them in six, but it didn't happen," Cassell said. "You've got to give Phoenix credit, they're not going anywhere, you have to beat them for 48 minutes. You're not going to beat them if you do it for only 47 minutes 58 seconds."

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The Suns might have center Kurt Thomas available for spot duty off the bench Monday. Thomas has not played since breaking his right foot against Boston on Feb. 22.

He went through two-on-two drills Saturday and was to participate in a full scrimmage today, Coach Mike D'Antoni said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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