Suns forward explodes for 60 on his former Sonics team

Chambers Lights It Up

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, a game can be overshadowed by the accomplishments of one player. When it happens, particularly before the home fans, the event becomes legendary.

In the long history of the Phoenix Suns, one night fits that category very well. The date: March 24, 1990. The opponent: The Seattle SuperSonics. The player: Tom Chambers.

Tom Chambers glides in to jam home two of his career-high 60 points.

B efore triggering the memory bank, consider a few odd facts. Of the top 10 individual scoring nights by Suns players, six of them had occurred away from home. Suns fans had seen Gail Goodrich score 47 points against the San Diego Rockets in 1969, and had witnessed Paul Westphal's 48-point performance against Denver in 1977. More often, however, a Suns scoring binge took place in someone else's building. In fact, Chambers had established a single-game high for scoring in a game at Golden State (56) one month earlier.

This night, however, would buck the trend.

The tempo was set early. Chambers started hot, and never cooled down. As Phoenix raced to a 58-44 lead at halftime, Chambers set Veterans Memorial Coliseum records for points (35) and field goals made (15) in a half. In the second quarter, Chambers scored the Suns' first 18 points, and finished with 21 of the Suns' 29 points in the quarter.

The second half was no different. Chambers had 49 by the end of the third quarter, and had 52 when he committed his fifth foul with nine minutes left in the game. With the game itself firmly in the Suns' hands, Chambers pressed on, cautiously. With 6:58 left, Chambers sank a free throw for his 57th point - breaking his month-old Suns' record. With 3:08, a 17-foot jumper made Chambers only the 14th player in NBA history to score 60 or more points in a game.

By the way, did we mention that Chambers was playing with a pulled hamstring in his right leg?

A sellout crowd of 14,487 was delirious as Public Address Announcer Stan Richards confirmed that, as Chambers left the floor, he had scaled the Phoenix Suns' version of Mount Everest, as the Suns won, 121-95.

It was not lost on those in attendance that this scoring avalanche had come against Chambers' former team.

"Two of Chambers' former teammates - Dale Ellis and Xavier McDaniel - had nothing to say afterwards," wrote Arizona Republic writer Gary Horowitz. "Perhaps their silence said it all."

Another Republic writer, Mark Armijo, attempted to describe what kind of a roll Chambers was on, making 22 of 32 field goal attempts.

"First, it was Chambers from outside," Armijo wrote. "Then inside. From the wing, then the paint.

"If he had been forced into the eighth row of Section 208, Chambers likely would have swished it from there."

Chambers impressed friend and foe alike.

"He just had it going," said Seattle Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff. "He got it going early. He had the inside going, he had the outside going. You have some of those nights."

"That's what we expect from Tom every night," said Suns guard Kevin Johnson. "When he gets his game going like that, it's impossible to stop him."

"An unbelievable offensive show," said Suns Head Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons. "He is a monster."

Chambers himself was modest afterwards, choosing to cite his teammates as the reason for his success.

"My teammates were trying like crazy to get me the ball," Chambers said. "That's the neat thing. Some teams have guys who just want to get their 20 points. But this team gets excited for their teammates."

The excitement was evident on KJ's face as Chambers closed in on the 60-point mark. In his post-game comments, KJ summed up the feelings of all who witnessed a true virtuoso performance.

"Oh, man, how many games are you going to be at where a guy is going to go and have a night like that and just be on his team? To me, that's kind of history in itself."

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