Don’t call it a comeback. Call it a historic comeback. Period.
That’s what happened at US Airways Center on Friday night. After trailing the Cavs by as many as 26 points and after falling behind 36-17 after one quarter, the Suns completed the third largest comeback in franchise history and the largest ever seen by a crowd in Phoenix. It was proof that the beauty of sports is anything can happen at any time.
Like the fans in the building, you could tell that the players were feeling a bit Eeyore-esque — heads down and downtrodden — heading into the locker room trailing 62-49 at the half. That all changed in the second half. But what was it that happened in the locker room that changed this?
While Head Coach Alvin Gentry remained quite quiet on the subject after the game, his players shed a little light on his motivational tactics.
“He didn’t want to see the long faces,” Sebastian Telfair recalled. “He didn’t want us giving up or look defeated and a couple of other things I can’t say I’d have to say off record. He got into us a little bit. He let us know we’re NBA players and our fans are out there. We owe it to them to go out there and give it our all. That helped us.”
Fellow point guard Goran Dragic felt the same way.
“He was really mad. He gave one of those intimidating speeches,” Dragic said after his 26 point performance. “At the same time he tried to inspire us to keep our heads up and just play through that. He really did a great job. All the players did a great job of answering to him that we are capable to play like that even if you’re down 26 points. You just fight for every possession and try to win that game.”
The speech must have worked for the guard because his coach said he played to the point of exhaustion and was almost sick after the game.
Another player who responded to Gentry’s talk was swingman Shannon Brown. He had 17 of his 22 points in the second half, 12 of which came in the final quarter.
“[Coach said] basically believe, don’t give up,” Brown said. “There have been teams that have come back from 40 point deficits and stuff like that. We didn’t want to lose. We knew the mistakes we were making. We just had to correct them. Good thing we had enough energy to withstand a few second half runs to fight our way back.”
And fight their way back they did.
It was a historic night at US Airways Center indeed. 15,236 lucky fans in attendance walked away seeing something no other Suns fan has seen there or at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. They won’t call it a comeback. They’ll call it history because they witnessed what makes tickets to that game priceless. They saw their home team pull together in an impossible situation and accomplish something incredible.