A game that started with the Phoenix Suns playing their worst quarter of basketball of the young season ended with a dramatic three with 1.1 seconds left, followed by a lob with just .4 on the clock to tie the game. Two overtime periods later and the Suns were able to outlast the Memphis Grizzles, who simply ran out of steam at the end. Suns win a big game that was all but lost when they were down four with 1.1 seconds to go.
Steve Nash scored 13 points in the two overtime periods, with nine of those in the second OT, and Jason Richardson finished with 38 points and eight rebounds to lead all scorers. Richardson was responsible for the Suns' final five points in regulation to extend the game.
The Suns started this game with the worst quarter of basketball they played all season. They were down by 15 points to the Memphis Grizzlies at the end of the first quarter and looked completely flat and unenergetic. The Suns bench battled back with much improved defense and energy in the second quarter, holding Memphis to just 20 points after giving up 35 in the first. At that point, the Suns were lucky to only be down 55-45.
The strong effort continued into the third quarter, with the Suns outscoring Memphis 25-21, leading to a fourth quarter where the game was very much up for grabs. With the Suns down 18 points early, this game had blowout written all over it. To even get it that close was a victory of sorts.
Lead by Goran Dragic's 13 points, along with active and aggressive defense from Channing Frye and Jared Dudley, the Suns bench was able to take a lead for the first time since they were up 11-8 early in the game. Frye had what Coach Alvin Gentry called his best game in a Suns uniform, despite only scoring one point. He led the team with 11 rebounds and played terrific defense.
"Sometimes, when the shot isn't falling, you just can't be one dimensional. They rely on me to do other stuff, so that was just what was working tonight," Frye said about his defensive and rebounding performances.
Unable to hang on to the advantage against the Grizzlies starters, Gentry went back to Nash with 5:27 to go, down 85-82. The game was back and forth to the end, with both teams hitting shots, but in the end, it was Rudy Gay and Mike Conley who were able to hit critical buckets while the Suns struggled to get good looks at key moments. Despite that, the Suns were able to tie the game, thanks to a Jason Richardson three with 1.1 seconds left. The Suns fouled Rudy Gay, who missed the first free throw and, with .4 on the clock, should have intentionally missed the second. His make gave the Suns a chance to call a timeout and advance the ball down only two.
Grant Hill, who hadn't played in the fourth quarter and was having a horrible game, came in to inbound the ball from the side line. He threw a lob to the rim and JRich ran off a screen and went up and was able to lay it in just a few tenths of a second before the buzzer. Tie game at 99 and the Suns' first overtime of the season.
The first overtime was a back and forth affair, with both teams ending up with ten points. In the second overtime, Nash got super aggressive and put the Suns ahead for good. The Grizzlies had opportunities, but couldn't convert. Missed free throws killed Memphis.
Hedo Turkoglu played his best game as a Sun and finished with 18 points and five rebounds. He was aggressive attacking big Zach Randolph on the perimeter and he knocked down his threes with confidence. Even his defense was solid.
On the negative side, aging stars Steve Nash and Grant Hill looked every bit their combined 74 years of age. Nash was sloppy with his passes and continued to shoot poorly. Hill couldn't hit even the most wide open mid-range shots. They combined to finish with 5-19, with Nash scoring 12 and Hill just two points -- at least those were the regulation time numbers. Nash putting up 13 more points in the two extra periods.
Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay led the Memphis Grizzlies with 26 points. Gasol looked just as solid as he did last season and the Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo and Mike Conley guard/wing trio was deadly as ever.
The Suns out-rebounded the big Grizzlies 55-48 and were up 21-16 on the offensive glass. Turnovers were a problem for both teams, with the Suns coughing up the ball 28 times and the Grizzlies 26.