Phoenix Suns 113, Indiana Pacers 111 -- The longest minute


Channing Frye and the Suns celebrated a critical victory in Indiana after a wild final minute. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Channing Frye and the Suns celebrated a critical victory in Indiana after a wild final minute. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Following two losses in the state of Florida that put a halt to the Phoenix Suns’ momentum, Alvin Gentry’s crew needed a wild last minute to hang on with a 113-111 victory against the Indiana Pacers in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

And in the end, Friday’s Phoenix win gave us what Michael Schwartz anticipated in his preview; a wild, back-and-forth of a game. At some point in the game, each team had leads of as many as seven points, and it included 13 lead changes and 10 ties.

“We had a tough stretch in Florida against two very good teams, and Indiana is a very good team,” Grant Hill told FSAZ’s Tom Leander after the game. “We got back to just playing good basketball. We didn’t defend as well as we would’ve liked, but we executed, the second unit was wonderful.

“We made and missed some free throws down the stretch, but we ultimately did what we needed to do to get the win.”

Quickly, the first three quarters spanned these amounts of real time:

1st – 27 minutes

2nd – 34 minutes

3rd – 23 minutes

The fourth? 45 minutes long, many of which were devoted to the final minute of play.

Before we get to the final minute, let’s play catch-up.

Surviving 28 Danny Granger points by the end of the night, the first quarter back-and-forth between centers Roy Hibbert and Marcin Gortat gave a firm example of how things were about to develop.

Breaking out of a mini-slump, Gortat scored 12 of his eventual 23 in the opening 12 minutes thanks to constant feeding from Steve Nash. The Suns’ point guard finished with 12 points and 17 assists, and Phoenix also got 22 points from Grant Hill as six players hit double figures.

Meanwhile in the first, Hibbert scored 10 points with jump hooks galore en route to his 19 on the evening.

The Suns entered the fourth after building their biggest lead of 86-79, but Tyler Hansbrough and former Sun Leandro Barbosa led the scoring charge with the first 11 points of the period to reel in Phoenix and bring the Pacers within two just more than two minutes into the quarter.

Phoenix’s starters built the lead back to seven with four minutes left, but things thereafter got sketchy as Nash picked up two turnovers in a row with under two minutes remaining.

The first 47 minutes also included an emphatic dunk by Jared Dudley, apparent tornadoes in the Indianapolis area, and the tossing of Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, yet it was the final minute that made the game.

After the second of the two Nash turnovers, a Hibbert free throw made it a 104-103 contest with 1:09 remaining.

Super Steve came to the rescue, throwing a bounce pass under the long arms of Hibbert to a cutting Gortat for a reverse layup, then finding Channing Frye for a three-pointer on the next possession. With 28 seconds left and a 109-103 lead, it looked like Phoenix had the victory locked up.

Granger scored on a layup the next time down, and Nash hit two free throws as the Pacers stopped the clock by fouling him. But with Gentry putting a smaller, faster lineup on the floor to defend the three-point line, Sebastian Telfair ended up contesting being too short to defend a Granger three-pointer after Telfair and Grant Hill made a switch on the inbounds.

All that resulted was a swish and a three-point game.

Compounding matters, Frye missed two free throws after a quick Pacers foul, and all of a sudden it was a 111-110 game with 11 seconds left following two Granger free throws.

Nash hit two more foul shots himself, Barbosa missed a three-point attempt, and the ball was batted out of bounds to the Pacers, the Suns leading by three with seconds remaining.

Enter one of the more volatile basketball debates: To foul or not to foul?

Dudley did, and with 1.7 seconds left, Paul George was out to hit one free throw and miss the second in hopes of getting a tip-in to tie it at 113.

He hit the first, and with a sideways attempt at the rim on his second attempt, a tipped basketball on the right side of the hoop floated in the air as George chased down his own miss. As he fell out of bounds, a two-handed shove toward the hoop couldn’t twist the ball over the rim.

The Suns escaped with a two-point victory.

And a very long, tense minute.

  • Jason A.

    Possibly a season-saving win. Go Suns!

  • Scott

    The Suns need more wins.

    Hopefully Gentry will continue to intermix starters with the 2nd unit. It seems to help just about every time.

  • Kevin

    Another Steve Nash work of art. I am so glad he is here and we can all only hope he’ll be here until he retires. I have lived enough sports years to know that when you’re lucky enough to be watching one of the best ever, you have to relish every moment.

  • A-ROCK

    Did you see the game russell westbrook had 45 points and 6 assists…… I would trade him straight up for nash in a heart beat! Nash needs to score more.

  • Suns4L1fe

    Haha Suns got very lucky in this game! The Grant Hill shot in the fourth quarter should have been a travel call, (something we got away with). And then that led to a technical by Frank Vogel which made it 3 points the Suns got from that whole situation! But still, I’m glad we won

  • Sean

    For the first time this season, I feel like the Suns might be for real. The recent home winning ways were nice, but the teams they beat weren’t great.

    But on this road trip, they’ve beaten the team with the 4th best record in the East (Indy) and they nearly beat the 2nd best (Miami) on the road. Orlando was motivated after a bad loss to Chicago; other than that game, the Suns have played well for 2-3 weeks now.

    I think they might be able to sneak in the playoffs ahead of Denver and Houston; possibly even the Clips unless they can right the ship. The upcoming schedule is tough, but these past 3 games show the Suns can play good teams tough on the road.

  • A-ROCK

    Nash is declining sorry to say, his point average is going lower every year. He is not the same steve nash from from ’06-’08 that would average almost 1000 shots a season, and average almost 20 points a game. I hope the suns don’t offer him max money but keep him around to play with a max player.

  • shazam

    when we get good enough to make it deep in to the playoffs we can call ourselves the phoenix suns again…right now we are just the phoenix turnstiles….everyone is all happy because we have a chance to position ourselves for an early play off exit…woo hoo…a team that wins half their games is the definition of average..the suns marketing has set us up to cheer for that.

  • A-ROCK

    @shazam I hate that they are even Phoenix anything ….. they should just be the turnstiles lol

  • Jason A.

    @ Big Daddy +1

    I never understood why trolls waste their time on a fan website. If you guys don’t like the team get lost.

  • A-ROCK

    @lil Daddy & Jason Ass it’s just my personality to notice the good and the bad in something I support not like you cunt who takes all that a dick like me gives you!! Just lay on your back and respect it … take that take that!

    There is a difference in negativity and honesty, I am brutally honest. Suns players coaches and organization need this reality as a whole.

  • Zak

    Yes, Nash is off his best PPG years but he’s also playing less minutes this year than he has since the 99-00 season, his FG% is the best it has EVER been this year and only in 3 of his previous 15 seasons was his assist per game average better (11.2 this year and his best season it was 11.6). Steve is attempting fewer shots than he has in the past but not that many. Actually his 3pt attempts are down more than anything else. The only year he made fewer 3pt attempts was his rookie year. I don’t think that he needs to shoot more overall, just shoot more 3′s.

    To say Nash is declining is obvious to those of us who have followed his career for so long but it’s also miraculous how LITTLE his game has declined at his age.

  • Tim from British Columbia

    We love Steve Nash and he is the reason we started watching basketball and quit watching hockey (what other sport allows fighthing other than ultimate fighting and boxing?!) We have had the pleasure of watching him play live three times, the most recent against the Mavs this month. His basketball skills and savy are so incredible to watch and his bounce passes are truly amazing. We are so proud of Steve Nash, a fellow Canadian who made it big in the NBA. I just wish the Suns would have held onto the great supporting cast (besides the good ones they have now…Dudley, Gortat, Frye) they have had including Dragic, Barbosa, Amundson and Richardson, among others. I just hope the Suns get into the playoffs and show their stuff as they have been doing lately. Then, get a couple of good free agents to make them even better. Go Suns!

  • Tim from British Columbia

    …and that Steve Nash is still with the Suns next year…please stay Steve.

    –Tim from BC

  • Scott

    Keep in mind this is a compressed season, and for much of the year the 2nd unit wasn’t performing well. Both things put a lot of pressure on Steve.

  • PennyAnd1

    @A-Rock

    You would actually trade Nash for Russell? You serious? Russel is just a flavor of the month type of player, he reminds me alot of Steve Francis who disappeared. Besides, it will throw the chemistry away if you’d trade Nash for Russell. Chemistry is important. I’d get Russell to play with Nash though as a SG along side Nash. He could possibly be one of the max-players Suns could get next season since Thunder really don’t like him because he is a ballhog at times. And seeing no one in the Suns are really comfortable at scoring, Westbrook would be the star at crunch time.

    Nash btw isn’t declining, he is just being conservative. If you are wondering about his turnovers, it can be explained by his teammates not really doing much to help. Still if you had a really good max-player PF next season to play alongside Gortat, pressure will be off Nash & Gortat and Suns will really be a killer.

    Anyone notice how the Suns are stagnant during 4th quarter closing out games, on a drought without scoring points. I swore they were stuck in 96 points for four minutes straight, even the bench was a little upset. I took note, and this is what I notice. They stop playing their running game, in other words they stop playing the killer instinct of scoring but would rather waste the time or should I say play a half court game. And they really suck at half court game it’s not to their advantage. But if it is something they are working on for the playoffs, they better start learning & improve. I just don’t like the idea of them going to Gortat to be the guy during crunch time, cause he makes bad plays which he did that killed off their momentum.

    Hey Gortat & Lopez finally played together lol, for 2 seconds.

  • A-ROCK

    @pennyand1 have you seen Westbrooks #’s every year they get better you better check yourself and if they get him to play with nash that will be great but the whole team is nash. Nash does not need to play conservative basketball when he is a shooting threat. They need plays for him off the ball to be the closer. I would trade nash for him because he is younger with a bigger ceiling to grow not that it will happen. Also nash is the chemistry of this club so losing him would only cause the team to play like they played against the clippers when they won. minus grant also. You are blind if you think westbrook is a flook lol I wish we had Kevin Love he is a beast who’s numbers are getting better every year also.. seasons like this cause a man to dream ….. sorry if I’m stirring any ill feelings towards you nash lovers hahah

  • Jason A.

    @ A-Rock

    1) Good grammar
    2) I just think it’s funny how you’re trying to puff your chest with the imagery of having sex with another man. No thanks, I’ll pass.

  • Suns4L1fe

    Guys, show some class and be a little more mature. Thank you. You’re making fools of yourselves….

  • PennyAnd1

    @A-Rock

    You obviously don’t know Steve Francis. The reason why Westbrook is excelling is because of the patience of his supporting cast plus DURANT. If Westbrook were to be in Nash place earlier this season, don’t think for one second he’d be having a great stat cause I’d think he’d drop his head down and not play like Beasley. Yeah that’s what losing does to your head. Westbrook really hasn’t stepped into real waters yet, he hasn’t tasted what it means to be consistent when you don’t have your supporting cast like Hardy, Ibaka, and DURANT. Those guys inspire Westbrook. Don’t think for a second Westbrook can brings his game elsewhere. He is just like Francis who disappeared cause he didn’t like the players he had to play with. That’s wahy Nash > Westbrook. Nash will die with any players he has. So read em’ and weep troll lover.

  • A-ROCK

    @pennyand1
    So your saying since the not so talented Suns almost beat the Great OKC in their last meeting that you can down Westbrooks play….. your crazy….. 1 you can say the same about the Suns having a supporting cast around Nash that makes Fry, Gortat and Dudley succeed but your are missing one ingredient that even your boy steve francis didn’t have and thats killer instinct! Westbrook has that and has a 2 time leading scorer on his team and still isn’t afraid of the BIG SHOT! You can’t teach that, it is born in you, that takes grooming, careful developing! Thats a leader and that’s why he has the best team record in the league. Not his fault he plays with a leading scorer, the suns play with the leading assist guy which should make a leading scorer out of 1 of the suns players since Nash gives all his points away! Your crazy for knocking a young rising allstar in Westbrook, he made a name for him self amoungst the tall red woods on his team! I can’t believe you would even begin to argue the value of both these players, if I had to choose I know who has the greater upside! And if he started the season with the Suns they would have the same amount of wins if not more! Look what they did to the clippers w/o Nash or grant hill! Done. Save your pennies and 1 before speaking blasphemy on a blog again rookie,

  • A-ROCK

    Also OKC didn’t start having winning seasons until Westbrook started playing for them, now that he is playing phenominal basket ball they are looking like a contender. It all happened through the draft something the suns are going in the oppisite direction of by selling draft picks and bringing in older players. @pennyand1 the suns have you brainwashed for real.

  • GoSuns

    @A rock and penny I think yall are both just a lil off, yes westbrook is in the steve francis mold because of his athleticism and he might not be as effective unlike nash in his old age which is part of what happened to francis, injuries are what mainly made him have to step away, and I think part of the reason nash has been conservative is because our pace is the slowest its ever been for him, yes it has picked up but he wants to get everybody going

  • PennyAnd1

    @A-Rock

    Suns almost beat OKC because Nash is leading the team. Why do you think Thunder wanted to get rid of Westbrook, with all the talent he has? Because he has a reputation of not playing teamwork. Damn man, Monta Ellis had 50 points twice this season and it didn’t take him 2 OTs to get it like Westbrook. I don’t see you sucking up his a$$. What’s the difference between Monta & Westbrook? DURANT.

    Get a grip. What you are asking for is another Stephon Marbury to lead the Suns, no disrespect to Starbury (I love the original tear-dropper). Guess what, Marbury lead a team of Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudamire, and Penny “my man” Hardaway. And they struggled, you know why? Because the point guard that lead them don’t know what team work is. He prefer to shoot first pass later (very similar to Westbrook). Along that season he had a brawl in the locker room with my man Penny. And the team just wasn’t a team at all. And then came Nash, flip that team to all-hype to the real thing. That’s the thing you are missing with in Nash. Nash has the rep for making everyone around him play better. Why you do you think that is. DUH! personality. Nash has proved 15+ damn years of his career that he is consistent and never change as a person when playing with different players. Westbrook was a question mark last year, and is playing better this year. What makes you think he’ll keep his head up once he hits rock-bottom like Nash has. I laugh at you thinking Westbrook is your saviour. What an a$$

  • PennyAnd1

    @A-Rock

    Nash has survived & bested the point guards the league has to offer from his generation to the new. He Jason Williams, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Mobley, Francis, Kidd, Baron Davis…etc… They all had their moments, but it lasted short. Nash continued. Even now CP3, Rondo, etc… they are fading before our eyes, and Nash is still here.

    I commented that Westbrook was a flaver of the month type of player, I meant of the year or two, type of player. It won’t be long that he’ll fade just like the rest. The game is about preparation, focus, and respect. Nash brings it every game. F*ck the game if it don’t mean nothin’.

  • steve

    CP3 is fading? Since when? Nash is great, and your point is well said. I just got a good laugh out of that little part. CP3 is easily the best PG (well, pure PG, sorry D-Rose) in the league and has been for 4-5 years (since he took over from Nash).