Phoenix 98, LA Clippers 92

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LOS ANGELES (TICKER) —The next time the Los Angeles Clippers face the Phoenix Suns, they might want to keep a closer eye on rookie Casey Jacobsen.

Jacobsen scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as the Suns snapped a season-high three-game losing streak with a 98-92 victory over the Clippers.

With Los Angeles doing its best to stop the trio of Stephon Marbury, Shawn Marion and rookie Amare Stoudemire, Jacobsen found himself open for most of his baskets.

“I don’t think it was that they didn’t give me enough respect. They gave everyone too much,” Jacobsen said. “I just took advantage of the situation and playing with guys like Shawn and Steph, you have to double those guys. Coach puts me on the floor, so that I can score when those guys do get double-teamed.”

“They were paying so much attention on Steph and me,” Marion added. “He just attacked the basket. He was doing it all night.”

Often overlooked as the “other rookie” on the Suns due to Stoudemire’s impact, Jacobsen was averaging six points per game in a reserve role. But he has stepped it up against the Clippers, scoring a career-high 19 points in a 108-95 home win on December 27.

“He seems to have a career night every time he plays us, 19 points at his place, 17 tonight,” Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said. “We just have to do a better job on him. I can understand him making outside shots but to push us down and be able to drive to the basket, I can’t quite understand.”

“Casey has been getting minutes and a lot of the time the minutes are dictated on how he’s been playing,” Suns coach Frank Johnson said. “There’s no matchup we favor with Casey. Having Eric Piatkowski there, we felt Casey could stay with him.”

In this one, Jacobsen helped the Suns take control in the fourth period, scoring two baskets during a 10-6 surge that opened an 89-83 lead with 2:22 to go.

But his final bucket may have been his biggest. After Corey Maggette made a pair of free throws to get Los Angeles within 94-90 with 46 seconds left, Jacobsen rebounded Marion’s miss and converted an open layup for a six-point cushion with 37 seconds to play.

Jacobsen, who came into the NBA as a 42 percent 3-point shooter in three seasons at Stanford, made 7-of-13 shots, but just 1-of-5 from beyond the arc.

“I enjoy going to the basket more than shooting 3-pointers,” Jacobsen said. “I like making 3-pointers because they are game-changing plays. But I’d rather go to the rack and finish at the basket. To me it is more enjoyable. I like the contact.”

Jacobsen’s clutch play helped offset a sub-par effort from second-year guard Joe Johnson, who scored two points on 1-of-10 shooting.

Both Marbury and Marion were kept below their season averages. Marbury finished with 19 points and a season-high 15 assists and Marion scored 15 points.

Phoenix never led in the first half and overcame an 11-point deficit to take its first lead of the game at 63-61 after Marion’s dunk with 2:02 remaining in the third quarter.

The basket capped an 11-2 Phoenix run after Los Angeles opened the quarter on a 12-3 spurt and built a 56-45 lead with 7:04 remaining.

Jacobsen closed out the quarter with a jumper and a pair of foul shots as Phoenix trailed just 69-68 entering the fourth.

With 5:41 remaining in the fourth, Jacobsen’s layup gave the Suns the lead for good at 83-81.

Marbury followed with a 15-footer and stole the ball from Wang ZhiZhi at midcourt, setting up Jacobsen for a dunk with 2:22 remaining.

The Clippers got 16 points from Sean Rooks and shot 52 percent (34-of-66) but committed 25 turnovers and lost for the 13th time in 18 games.

Rooks was replaced starting center Michael Olowokandi in Los Angeles’ lineup. Olowokandi was placed on the injured list before the game with a sore left knee.

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