The Phoenix Suns had already seen their fair share of high-scoring multiple-overtime games when a Jan. 22 meeting with the Seattle SuperSonics rolled around. But there was nothing ordinary about this contest.
By the time the game was over, the teams had combined to score the most points in an NBA game in 11 years, five players had played more than 48 minutes and the Suns had become the first team in NBA history to lose four games going double overtime or longer in the same season. Along the way, Ray Allen had added another chapter to his legacy, Steve Nash turned in another MVP performance and several players delivered the best efforts of their careers.
Just when it seemed as if Phoenix was headed toward its third triple-overtime game of the month, Allen capped off a fantastic performance with one of the most clutch shots of his career. The Seattle sharpshooter buried a 32-footer at the buzzer in OT, giving the Sonics a wild 152-149 road win.
"When I was open I just knew that it was the time to make a shot," Allen said right after the game. "They were so worried about Rashard (Lewis) at the basket, nobody came with me. When they go under the screen, that is all I need to get the shot off. Having to dribble helped me establish rhythm. It felt like a normal shot. I didn't realize where I was, I just knew that I had to get it up."
Allen (who three months later would break the record for treys made in a season) had scored just 10 points over the first three quarters before exploding for 32 on eight 3-pointers the rest of the way. Not surprisingly, several players put up huge numbers in the highest scoring game since Houston (147) and Dallas (156) combined for 303 on April 11, 1995.
Luke Ridnour poured in a career-high 30 points and dished out 11 assists, Vladimir Radmanovic and Lewis combined to score 39 and Robert Swift scored a career-high 15 in his first start for Seattle.
Phoenix was led by the triumvirate of Nash, Shawn Marion and Raja Bell. Nash tallied 28 points, 16 assists and eight boards, Marion had 37 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, and Bell scored a career-high 31 on 7-of-11 shooting from behind the arc.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent from the floor and each squad had six players in double figures.
"We had some great individual efforts and it was a great game," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said following the game. "They hit every shot."
In addition to gaudy statistics and exhausted players, there was plenty of drama as each team had its share of big shots, leading up to Allen’s winner.
Marion provided a go-ahead dunk with 15 seconds left in regulation before Allen answered with a trey with 4.4 seconds to play. Nash flipped in a left-handed layup with 1.6 seconds to go, forcing overtime.
The game remained tight in the extra sessions as neither team led by more than three points. Bell knotted the game at 149-149 with 11 seconds left in the second overtime on a jumper. After Phoenix fouled with 2.5 seconds left, Allen took an inbounds pass high above the arc, dribbled once to the left and buried his long shot over Marion.
“They set a double screen and I sent him high," said Bell, who was covering Allen most of the night and on the last play. "I switched with Shawn and I grabbed Lewis. Shawn did a good job of contesting the shot. We didn't want the shooter to necessarily be Allen, but you definitely want them shooting from eight feet above the 3-point line."
It was an especially painful loss for Phoenix, since the club had already endured a pair of triple-overtime setbacks in January and a double-OT loss earlier in the campaign.
“We’re snakebit in these games. You’d figure we’d get one,” D’Antoni told the East Valley Tribune. “I don’t really understand it. Hopefully we’re building up a little goodwill with the basketball gods somewhere.”