Down two with 0.4 seconds on the clock, the Phoenix Suns were headed toward their fourth loss in five games. But head coach Alvin Gentry drew up a masterful play to game MVP Jason Richardson, who scored 38 points and tipped in a lob feed from Grant Hill as time expired in regulation.
Here’s the game-tying play in video form:
The alley-oop to J-Rich was almost more a function of bad defense from Memphis, rather than an amazing play. The No. 1 rule in a situation like this is protect the basket, and the Grizzlies failed to do so.
Despite the porous defense, no credit should be taken from Gentry for drawing it up, and certainly Hill and Richardson for executing it. Throwing a pass on the money like Hill did is no easy feat, and skying to get off the shot before the buzzer while making sure it goes down is improbable as well.
Below is a look at the game-tying lob and how it developed. Channing Frye started at the top of the key, while Richardson set a back screen for Frye. Steve Nash also ran the baseline off a Jared Dudley screen that proved to be Phoenix’s No. 2 option.
Although this was the original set, the Suns never intended to hit Frye with the lob. Frye stopped on a dime rather than slashing to the hoop. He turned around and set a back screen for Richardson, who originally darted to the three-point line after setting the pick on Frye.
O.J. Mayo was unable to fight through Frye’s screen and Darrell Arthur failed to help out and protect the basket before it was too late. The play was your classic lob-feed buzzer beater, but with a wrinkle from Gentry.
Frye was used as a decoy and it caught Memphis a bit off guard when he darted back toward the free throw line and set the back screen for Richardson. There were a ton of impressive plays made throughout the course of the double-overtime thriller, but none more impressive than J-Rich’s tip in to send it to overtime.