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Suns overcome Nash's absence to beat Clippers

Grant Hill scored 19 points, Aaron Brooks and Zabian Dowdell made up the absence of ailing Steve Nash, and the Phoenix Suns ended a four-game losing streak with a 111-98 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

In halting their longest losing streak of the season, the Suns beat the Clippers for the eighth consecutive time at US Airways Center. Los Angeles has not won at Phoenix since March 17, 2007.

Nash, the Suns' scoring leader and the league leader in assists, was a late scratch because of flulike symptoms. This was the fifth game he missed this season, but the first time the Suns won without him.

Brooks finished with 17 points and six assists. Dowdell, a rookie, had a season-high 14 points and five assists.

The Suns had six players in double figures. Hakim Warrick added 17 points and 10 rebounds, Jared Dudley scored 16, and Marcin Gortat had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Eric Gordon led the Clippers with 21 points, and Blake Griffin had 20 points and 13 rebounds. However, Griffin shot only 6 of 15 from the field.

The Suns took command early in the second quarter. With the score tied at 32, they outscored the Clippers 25-12 through the remainder of the period and assumed a 57-44 halftime lead.

Third-string point guard Dowdell, getting extended playing time because of Nash's absence, sparked the burst with 10 points and three assists. After missing his first two shots badly — they didn't even hit the rim — Dowdell connected on four consecutive attempts, mostly knifing his way through the Clippers' defense.

Meanwhile, the Suns' usually porous defense did a commendable job on Griffin, the Clippers' high-scoring rookie. Although Griffin exhilarated the crowd with two of his patented slam dunks, he was only 4 of 10 for 10 points in the first half.

Following a mediocre shooting first period, the Suns sizzled in the second quarter, hitting 13 of 21 for 61 percent. Instead of settling for 3-point attempts, which they often do, the Suns were taking the ball to the basket and scored 28 points in the paint.

Hill was the game's high scorer at halftime with 13 points, including 11 in the first quarter, when he was 5 for 6 as Phoenix took a 25-23 lead.

With Brooks on the floor in the third quarter, the Suns widened their advantage to 88-70 by the end of the period. Brooks accounted for 10 points and three assists during the period.

Notes: The Suns open a five-game, eight-day road trip Sunday at San Antonio, followed by Chicago, Minnesota, New Orleans and Dallas before they return home for their final two games of the season. ... The Clippers have six games remaining, all against teams in the playoffs or still in contention — two each against Oklahoma City and Memphis, and one each against Dallas and Houston. ... Before Friday, Nash was the NBA leader in assists with 11.4 per game, his best average since the 2006-07 season. He also led all NBA players with 48 double-digit assists games and led NBA guards with 41 double-doubles.