It may have been the greatest game ever played.
OK, maybe that’s a bit much. But for the modern-day Phoenix Suns, it sure had to rank up there with some of the greatest wins.
I’m talking about Friday’s 123-118 double-overtime victory over Memphis. I’m talking about Jason Richardson scoring 38 points, Steve Nash scoring 25, and Channing Frye not being able to make a shot, but grabbing 11 rebounds off the bench. And I’m talking about Richardson hitting a reverse layup off an inbounds pass with 0.4 seconds left to send the game into the first OT.
If nothing else, we learned that this year’s version of the Suns are never out of it. We also know that Coach Alvin Gentry knows how to draw up a great play, and Grant Hill and Richardson know how to execute it.
We also know that the Suns will always do what it takes to win. Or at least not go down easily. Nash indicated as much last week, saying these new Suns are still trying to figure each other out, but “we gotta try to win as many games as we can” along the way.
That won’t be too difficult if the Suns can demonstrate the resolve they showed Friday night. They also displayed teamwork in its truest sense, something that’s become a staple of the Gentry era.
- Hill scored just two points on 1-for-9 shooting, and for most of the night, nothing went right for Suns’ rock of a veteran. Yet he ended up throwing the most fabulous pass of the young season. And that’s really saying something when Nash is on the team.
- Nash also seemed not up to par (although we should note his “par” exceeds most). But when the Suns received new life after the miracle play between Hill and Richardson, Nash went for the kill. Of his 25 points, 13 were scored in the overtime sessions. That’s what you call making the most of a second chance.
- Also were the underrated performances of Hedo Turkoglu (18 points), and Frye, Hakim Warrick (15) and Goran Dragic (13) off the bench. Nobody is likely to vote for any of those for the All-Star team, but the Suns and their fans sure appreciate them. And if Turkoglu and Warrick provide more one-two punches at power forward like they did Friday … well, anything is possible.
- Finally, not to be forgotten were the unsung performances of Robin Lopez, Josh Childress, Jared Dudley and even rookie Garret Siler. What people often overlook is the fact those guys will have to admirably fill their roles if the Suns are to make another surprising run.
Of course, you don’t want every win to be like the one Friday. As Gentry said, “I will never, ever make my next birthday if we go through the season like that.”
But it’s nice to get those kind of victories when the opportunity arises — if for no other reason than to show that the Suns may not be far from coming together as a team. And as we saw last season, that alone can carry you a long way.