Where to begin? It's always about making plays -- or not making them.
Chris Kaman second chances, four of 'em.
Steve Nash first quarter: 0 points, 0/2 shooting.
Steve Nash second quarter: 9 points, 4/7, but he looks stiff-legged on his 3's and he knows it, taking them only when there appears to be no other option.
Shawn Marion is everywhere, Suns get in the bonus early, Barbosa jam off Raja Bell tap-out rebound from his own end and a one-handed swing on the rim.
Jack Nicholson made the trip, and TNT can barely contain itself with the news -- but he's sitting in the third row. wtf?
|Shawn Marion: roughed up but still a monster around the rim.|
Corey Maggette is the offence. No wonder the offence is dry. Suns up by 19, Thomas starting the blitz with a 3 and everyone's involved.
Sam Cassell starts feeding Elton Brand and the lead dwindles. Sammy hits a three, drives Marion and pops up for a short jumper, hits another three: down to a 2-point Suns lead midway thru 4th quarter, and the Clippers are ready for the kill shot.
Brand blocks Marion.
Nash turnover, Mobley misses an open jumper.
Cassell 3 from the corner, Brand pile-driving Barbosa with the pick to get him open - tie game, 39.8 seconds remaining.
Marion creamed after Nash's inbounds baseline slingshot pass, misses both FT's.
Cassell called for 8-second violation, which you see about three times a season -- the replay is priceless, Sam smiling at Bell as he brings the ball up then it freezes on his face as he turns to Javie in disbelief.
Nash misses another 3. He really doesn't want to take these.
Cassell misses a 3, then Thomas fails to call timeout with at least 2.5 seconds left. OT.
Two Brand postups = two baskets. Easy game, but in between Thomas cleans up an ugly possession with a twisting layup after a Marion airball.
Raja Bell 3 (*gong*)
Raja Bell steal (*gong*)
Raja Bell defence on Cassell jumper that misses (*gong*)
Tim Thomas fouls out AND Clippers in the bonus. Now what?
Nash penetrates, airballs a pass to -- Nicholson? Who else could it be in the third row?
Cassell drive against Bell, bump and jump good! Clips by three
Nash driving layup, down to one
Brand turnover against double, Barbosa stealing his pass
Nash penetrates, bounces pass into Marion's feet -- turnover. It's dead quiet
Cassell fouled, makes both, three-point lead, 3.8 seconds left
Timeout, Daniel Ewing -- activate GPS Finder -- in for Brand. (On TV, Collins keeps going on about the Clips having a foul to give)
Raja Bell catch and shoot in corner against Ewing -- Good! tie game, 1.1 left (*gong! gong! gong!*) and in timeout, Cassell giving it to poor Ewing.
|Sam's not very happy right now.|
Brand miss. Suns shot-clock violation. Livingston miss.
Marion makes two FTs. Cassell drive and jumper.
Marion folo. Marion on the floor, it's his ankle, he's helped off.
Jones in for Marion -- Jones rebound of Bell miss.
Marion back in for Jones. Huge ovation.
It was at this moment that the Suns, who had looked hopelessly hanging on by their fingernails to me, suddenly looked capable of winning. For one thing, Steve Nash wasn't the focal point -- and somehow Sean Livingston and Mobley were, Suns' doubles on Brand taking their toll. Most of all, Marion returned after his second hard knockdown, that little bandage over his eye giving him the look of a prizefighter out for one last round you didn't think was going to happen against these thoroughly likable Clippers with their cuddly fans (there's a rule somewhere that says Billy Crystal's Clippercrush has to be mentioned every time out).
Raja Bell (*gong!) got to the FT line with a canny upfake on Cassell and made one of two, and after a Brand jumper against a double team, Barbosa hit a 3. Suns by 4 and the joint is jumpin'. Brand folo and one. Back to a one-point lead.
And the PVR stopped right then. Tivo interruptus. I'd added an extra 90 minutes. It wasn't enough. Next time I set it on tantric.
I look at the play-by-play (it's below if you want it) and that's Marion hitting a jumper, Mobley missing, Barbosa making a pair and Livingston stepping on the line to turn it over from there. At playoff time, this was Charles Oakley's mantra: "Make the plays, win the game."
I tally up the diary's checklist and on my card I have:
Phoenix 15 plays made, 9 plays not made (+6)
Clippers 12 plays made, 7 not made (+5)
Nicholson 1 play made (tickets, although that's a gimme putt, right?), 1 not made (third row).
These late games, these classics. I didn't think this series would be the match of Suns-Lakers, but it's already surpassed it with this one. Still going seven, I reckon, and still anyone's game (I'll stick with my Suns call, and this one will be hard for the Clippers to swallow) but this was one for the ages, Bell and Marion (36 points, 20 rebounds) barely outlasting Cassell and Brand (33 and 15).
Related: The Clipperblog folks have done a great job breaking this series down: "Basketball games are won and lost by players, teams, execution and precision - not by embroidered laundry or religious superstition or the absence of mystique or any crap like that. Call me an empirical twat, but, hey, that's just me."
Related: The Nets are going home. Figures when those two finally got around to playing a scintillating game, it'd be the end of the series, the Heat waiting to see who's next - and completely eclipsed by the end of the night.
UPDATE: J.E. Skeets over at The Basketball Jones stayed up and live-blogged it:
0:01 – BELL FROM THE CORNER… IT’S GOOD! 111-111! WOW! I’M NEVER GOING TO BED! EVER! LIKE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!