Phoenix Suns still last team to come back from 3-1 deficit

This week we once again learned how difficult it is to come back from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven NBA series, something only eight teams have accomplished in NBA history.

This year a whopping six teams found themselves in a 3-1 hole and two went home in Game 5, another two in Game 6 and a final two were sent packing by the LA teams in Game 7.

Last week ESPN’s John Hollinger wrote after the Pacers had ended Orlando’s long-shot hopes that there was a 59.1 percent chance of at least one team finishing the job, according to AccuScore’s ESPN NBA Playoff Predictor.

Personally, I really liked Memphis’ chances and thought the Bulls had a decent shot as well since two of the three games both teams would need to win would come on their home floor.

Instead, the 2006 Suns remain the last team to pull off a 3-1 comeback. Surely you remember that fascinating first-round series that featured a Kobe buzzer-beater in Game 4 amid some interesting officiating, the Raja Bell clothesline on Kobe in Game 5, the Tim Thomas shot that saved a season and a book in Game 6 as well as the Kobe pass contest in a Game 7 rout.

In honor of the second-seeded Suns completing the kind of thrilling series comeback that nobody has duplicated in the past six years — and for the series being so darn exciting — I give you this YouTube video featuring the highlights of that seven-game roller coaster:

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The Suns also appear twice on the list of teams who have lost a series after taking a 3-1 lead.

They blew a 3-1 lead to the 1995 Rockets that culminated with Mario Elie’s Kiss of Death in a year Houston won it all. The 1970 Suns also lost the same lead to the Lakers in the Western semis during a year in which Los Angeles lost to the Knicks in the Finals in the Willis Reed Game.

  • shazam

    re-sign redd next year..he w/ play huge


    Whatever the FO does this summer…please! DON’t BRING BACK BROWN!!! He is the most inefficient player! Sure he scores now and then, but that guy is very inconsistent!

  • steve

    Redd played pretty poorly for the Suns this season. You can blame it on the knees if you want, but an offseason isn’t going to change the fact that his knees just aren’t the same any more. Redd had a handful of good games for the Suns, but he had dozens of bad games or games where he was completely irrelevant.

    From a 13.9 PER to a .052 WS/48, Michael Redd is just not going to be an above-average NBA player again.

  • B. Cray Z.

    Very good nostalgia Michael.

    Of all the Suns’ players who helped beat the Lakers that year, there is one who sticks in my mind besides Nash.

    That is because he helped to almost do it again the last time our Suns faced the Lakers in the playoffs (year before last.) This potent weapon, whom I call “Leandro The Laker Killer”, is Barbosa, former Sixth Man of the Year. When Raja Bell was suspended for getting Kobe into a head lock, LB started in his place & carried the team in a vital road game. Suns’ traded him for Hedo, breaking up the most feared bench unit in the league. Then he became available this year (along with Louis), but, instead of Babby admitting the mistakes & making an effort to get them back, he took a pass. They instead now play for the Pacers, who were smart enough to pick them up & have helped Indiana to win its first playoff series in how long? What would it have taken to get LB back? That is the disgusting part because all the Pacers had to give up for Barbosa was a 2nd round draft pick. Had the Suns made any effort, they could have stolen him for that same pick. Keep in mind that the Raptors would have easily favored the Suns’ pick. Gogi, Louis & the Brazilian Blur need to come home. Real competitive & “elite”teams would have never broken up this killer bench unit. More than the loss of Amare, this is why we have not been the same team. Nash knows this all too well & so does Grant Hill. Now, we run the risk of losing them also. Babby is a sleazy, self-absorbed power hungry lawyer who must go, as this would have never happened under Steve Kerr. Sure Kerr made mistakes but he immediately admitted them & rectified them. Babby’s lame excuse is that he does “not want to revisit the past.”

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • steve

    Wasn’t Kerr the guy who didn’t extend any of the guys on that “killer bench unit?” There’s no way I’ll make an argument for Babby as the best PBO of all time, but wasn’t it Jerry West who said something along the lines of, “In this business, if you’re right 51% of the time, you’re doing well”?

    A lot of Suns fans like to pretend that things were so much better in the past, but I think it’s simply too early to judge.

  • Scott

    @re-sign Redd & steve -

    My belief is that Redd was actually working himself back into shape this whole last year. There were games where he played well, and games where he did poorly. The games where he played well were typically games in which he called upon deep reserves to go all out, like his performance against the Bucks, or when Nash and Hill were out.

    I remember when Hill first came to the valley. This was after he’d played a season in Orlando after coming back from injury. The Suns didn’t know what they were getting from him, and he didn’t know what he could provide. He surprised himself and others by improving on his ability to run the floor and even start reaching the basket on transition plays. Now, years later, we expect him to be able to dunk it, but this was not in his repertoire when he arrived.

    Redd shows signs of being that same way, though his last season here is like Hill’s last year with the Magic. He may be on the verge of breaking out. So I’d offer him a smallish two-year contract, like what was given to Hill. See if Redd can better establish himself on the court now that he knows the system and as he rebuilds his body under the care of the training staff.

    @don’t sign brown -

    While I’d take Redd before Brown, that’s mainly because I know Redd has already passed through tests of basketball maturity and come through as a star. Brown lacks that degree of maturity, but he brings youth. It’s a trade off.

    Brown would play better next year because now he finally knows the system. The problem is that due to defensive liabilities and a lack of offensive synergy, the Suns can’t play both Brown and Redd on the floor at the same time. When they played together, Brown made Redd look bad and vice versa. Since the Suns are likely to re-sign Hill and keep Childress and Dudley, there’s really only room for one of these two guys.

    If the Suns can’t get Redd, and if the contract isn’t too high, the Suns should definitely take Brown. I’d expect his play to pick up where it left off at the end of the season, which was where the offense was good and fairly dependable, and the defense was showing up more frequently.

    So don’t judge Brown by his early season play, when Gentry put him out there even when he didn’t know the system. And don’t judge him by his play with Redd, because neither played all that well with one another.

    Both Brown and Redd would be better complemented with Childress as their wingman. (Which is the call I believe Gentry ought to have made.)

    Also note that if Hill retires this summer, or signals that this next season will be his last, then there is cause to sign both Redd and Brown. Just don’t play them together, because they both need the ball in their hands and they both need a high-efficiency defensive guy as a helper.

  • Scott

    Put me down as one of the fans who scratches his head when the Suns don’t re-sign or trade away key 2nd unit players like Dragic, Barbosa, or Amundson, especially without any tested and credible backup.

    I think Kerr may have let Amundson go with the idea that Clark would more ably fill his spot. Obviously he did not, and Clark looks like an NBA washout.

    IMO, having too much confidence in your draft pick is as undisciplined as believing your pick is going to be awful (so you sell it). The Suns need better draft discipline. You pick the best guy available and plan to give him a year for evaluation, and you stick with that plan.

    The Suns traded Barbosa after an injury-plagued season, hoping to turn his excessive $7 million contract into a front-court creator/distributor. But Hedo couldn’t play PF, and the Suns were stacked at SF, so that didn’t work.

    The Suns also traded Dragic and MarShon Brooks for Aaron Brooks, which was about as unequal and unnecessary a trade as you will ever see.

    I blame Gentry for putting Dragic in an untenable position on the 2nd unit, which set him up to be singled out and eliminated by Blanks. And I blame Blanks for discounting the value of the Suns’ 2nd round pick (which turned out to be MarShon).

    I don’t know if the Suns will retain their 2nd round pick this season, because if it is #55 or higher it goes to NYC. But if they do get their 2nd rounder, and if he’s still on the board, my choice right now (as I’ve been saying for months) is combo guard Nemanja Nedovic, who may be close to Dragic in size and skill.

  • Scott

    @Michael -

    That incredible year was a career year for so many Suns players.

    Nash, Bell, Diaw, Marion and Barbosa, they all added substantially to their fame that year. Other players like Thomas, Junior, and House moved on, but were recognized names after that season.

    BTW, I noticed that Gentry’s contract has not been extended. He’s got one more year on his contract, as does Lon Babby. (Blanks has 2 more years.)

    Probably everyone here knows my opinion is that if Gentry made better roster moves, both in this year and the last, the Suns would have been in the playoffs. The fact that the Suns made it neither year I put on him.

  • roger rose

    Lets bring brack BARBOSA, AMUNDSON AND DRAGIC if the price is right. Our bench would be really good like in 2010 and then, we just need to focus in getting a scorer, a SG or PF, i would prefer PF who has a midrange and inside scoring. i hope the management can make it right this time. its a matter of chemistry which takes time to develop. we dont have to wait for 2 months for them to click, we need it right away. As you guys always point, COHESION is the key. i just love NASH to retire as a SUN and enjoy watch him play and be competitive. wherever NASH goes, i’ll be more than happy, still hoping as a SUN with quality teammates. it is too much to ask him to win games by himself, right? GO SUNS!

  • steve

    “The Suns also traded Dragic and MarShon Brooks for Aaron Brooks, which was about as unequal and unnecessary a trade as you will ever see.”

    I remember that day. I was on a trip during my lunch break, and the guys on 620 (I think it was still Gambo & Ash back then, but it was two guest hosts that day, I think it was Hamblin and Burns) asked for listeners to chime in on the trade. I was vehemently opposed to the trade, and those morons were thinking the Suns just won the lottery.

  • Tony


    the answer to your question is no, Kerr was not the one who did not resign the Suns’ bench unit after that great run to the WCFs in 09-10. Please don’t rewrite history, but that’s typical of the Sarver-supporters.


    Gentry did a poor job integrating Dragic with the 2nd unit in 10-11, but again, having so many new faces made it likely that they would need time to develop chemistry and Blanks was the one who didn’t want more time for Dragic to adjust.

    Furthermore, how you could blame Gentry for the Suns’ failure to make the playoffs in the last two seasons goes beyond disbelief. Did you forget the midseason trade that brought three new Suns players in 10-11 or the weakest roster he’s had to coach since taking over the Suns’ head coach job this season? Did you forget that the Suns were actually ranked between 13th-14th in the west and yet made it to 10th despite all odds? Give me a break! Gentry deserves a ton of praise for the job he did last season and this season. It’s not his fault he has to work for the Three Stooges.

  • steve

    @tony- re-signing doesn’t only happen in free agency. Plus, I didn’t say “re-sign.” I said “extend.” Extensions are signed before free agency. Kerr didn’t sign any of them to extensions, did he? Am I wrong, or do you want to detract your needlessly condescending remarks (especially needless in light of their inaccuracy)?

  • steve

    My bad, you only respond in kind. So, I must be wrong about that being an “indirect dig.” I’m sorry. So sorry.

    Btw, I think it’s funny that you used the very same word (“typical”) in this thread that you used to justify your “HE STARTED IT” game in our last scuffle. I wouldn’t expect anything else out of you, but for some reason it’s still funny when you deliver.

  • grover

    Steve/Tony – will the two of you please just knock it off. This is beyond tiresome.

  • Tony


    the “typical” line was deliberate, glad you caught it!

    Oh, and although this is admittedly speculative, I doubt Sarver wanted Kerr to sign any Suns’ players to extensions as a lot of the front office decisions were dependent on what happened with Amare. But I do know for a fact that Sarver wanted Kerr and the rest of the front office to take a pay cut, so that is an indication as to the likely lack of leverage Kerr had to extend anyone’s contract. In other words, if Sarver demanded even the front office take pay cuts, it is probably very likely that Sarver didn’t provide Kerr with the funds needed for him to resign key Suns players.


    if you don’t like it, don’t read our comments!

  • norton powerhorne

    So Good King Wenceslas phones the pizza parlor: “Make it the usual – deep pan, crisp and even”.

    Just a little levity to break up the thread acrimony….

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    I hope when Gentry goes the Suns get a better coach.

    Sarver is a better owner then Gentry is a coach. :)

  • steve

    @tony- I don’t get why you have such an aversion to saying, “I’m wrong.” it’s really not a bad thing. It actually makes you look better for admitting your mistakes.

    @grover- I don’t understand your beef. What do you expect from the internet? Tony is a different kind of troll. Feed him or not and he’ll still be here with the same poison.

  •!/True_Rys Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Good vid, good vid.

    Tony is on the right track on this one in regards to Kerr. Keep in mind that, at the time, the Suns were trimming players as they began to “move in another direction” and a lot of those guys Kerr didn’t re-sign or extend were not looked at as needed in the new system which, lasted 10 seconds but, what can you do.

    Watching Diaw in that video lets you see why Nash may have wanted him back and why he was a bit irritated when it didn’t happen. In this system, even when he isn’t scoring-aggressive, he can be beastly.

    Whether or not the Suns didn’t think he was the same player, it kind of shows that perhaps the Nash era is coming to an end with the unwillingness to sign him again. I mean, Even a bit more beefy around the middle, Diaw is a more talented player than Frye or Morris right now especially in Gentry’s system.

    Also, we all shot venom at Gentry at some point this season but lets not throw him under the bus. The “fan” in us all got upset at one point or another, but really he didn’t have much to work with.

    If you give Gentry quality players to work with, he is a hell of a coach. If this were an 82-game season, the Suns would have been a 7 or 8 seed because he eventually figured his roster out and there would have been a few more weeks to shoot by Utah or whoever else snuck into the playoffs.

  • Tony


    I actually have no problem admitting when I’m wrong but please elaborate on what exactly I said that was incorrect? For the record, I do not appreciate being called a troll. Even though I think your opinions are as off-base and absurd as any I’ve read, I recognize you are a fan of the team and don’t call you a “troll.” But I guess resorting to insults is just typical behavior of Sarver-supporters!


    That is such a ridiculous comment that it doesn’t even deserve any additional response.

  • steve

    Don’t troll then.