Mobley, Kaman Really Rebound

Times Staff Writers

PHOENIX — Swingman Cuttino Mobley and center Chris Kaman had room for improvement after their performances in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

A lot of room.

Mobley missed five of six shots and scored only three points in Monday's 130-123 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Kaman wasn't much better: eight points and seven rebounds.

Determined to contribute in Game 2, the key players had strong rebound performances Wednesday night in a 122-97 rout of Phoenix in Game 2.

Mobley scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He made nine of 16 shots, scoring on a variety of post moves and making long jump shots.

"I had people calling me and saying to get aggressive and things like that, and I really don't like all that talk," Mobley said. "It happened, that game was over, it was what it was. I just wanted to stay aggressive for the team, and put some pressure on their guys."

Kaman applied pressure as well in a 14-point, 16-rebound performance. He made six of eight shots and played only 23 minutes because of foul trouble.

"It was efficient," Kaman said. "I thought I took good shots in the last game, but they just didn't fall. Sometimes they don't fall for you, that's how it goes, and I didn't have a great game.

"I didn't help us win, obviously, but I shot the ball better tonight. I shot the same shots, but I just made 'em. I shot the ball better. There's nothing you can do about [Game 1], you just have to go back out and make shots."

Said power forward Elton Brand: "Cat and Chris bounced back great. They played great, and not just offensively. They hit the boards and everything."

Corey Maggette, who scored only two points in the Clippers' Game 2 romp, has made a major contribution in the postseason.

Before Game 2, Maggette was second to Brand on the team in scoring, averaging 17.5 points and 5.7 rebounds in only 23 minutes in the Clippers' first six playoff games.

"No doubt, Corey Maggette has been big for this basketball team," point guard Sam Cassell said. "Corey comes in, runs the floor, attacks the rim and makes something happen.

"Like I've been saying all year, this basketball team needs Corey Maggette to be as good as we can be."

As legs get heavy deeper into the playoffs, teams sometimes practice only an hour, if that.

For the Suns, it has been a season-long mind-set: Play hard, practice easy.

"Rest is a conditioning tool," Sun Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "For us as a team, we rely on our quickness, so it's the No. 1 priority."

Four Sun starters are averaging more than 40 minutes a game in the playoffs, a reason why days between games are practically days off, with quick film sessions, some light shooting and out the door they go.

The hardest-working practice players are those who don't get much time — Brian Grant, Pat Burke and Nikoloz Tskitishvili take turns playing one-one-one against each other to stay in shape.

"It's critical," guard Raja Bell said after Tuesday's 45-minute practice. "If he had brought us in here and made us run up and down…. My legs are beat."

The Chicago Bulls were unhappy with all the attitude when the season began, so they told Tim Thomas to stay home, where he lounged around and continued to collect his $14-million salary after complaining about his lack of playing time.

The Bulls eventually waived him in March, allowing him to sign with the Suns, where he has been a model citizen and series-saver.

His three-pointer with 6.3 seconds left forced overtime against the Lakers in Game 6. The Suns ultimately won the game and series. He was averaging 15.1 points in the playoffs going into Wednesday's game against the Clippers, making the Suns' gamble in him apparently worthwhile.

"He's making $13 million while staying at home. That kind of raises the flag," D'Antoni said. "He's been great, though."

Said Cassell: "Where would they be without Tim Thomas? He showed why he is a big playoff player. Tim Thomas is the key…. You have to limit his ability to make three-point shots and spread the defense."

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