Date: May 20, 2005
Place: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Set-up: In the 2005 Western Conference Semifinals, the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks became just the fourth pair of teams to ever score more than 100 points in every game of a six or seven-game series. Luckily for Phoenix, its MVP point guard, Steve Nash, would make Game 7 an unnecessary conclusion.
Down 16 late in the third quarter of Game 6, the Suns stormed all the way back, tying the score with 9:44 remaining thanks to a 22-6 run. During the spurt, Jim Jackson and Shawn Marion carried Phoenix, combining for 15 points.
But over the final few minutes of regulation, it was Nash, the former Maverick, who took over for the Suns.
After the eight-time All-Star curled off a Steven Hunter screen and briefly put the Suns up by one on a three-point shot with a minute to play, the Mavericks countered with four straight points on a Josh Howard layup and two Dirk Nowitzki free throws. Nash then cut the deficit to one, getting by Nowitzki before converting on a nifty right-handed scoop shot with 14.2 seconds to go.
Quentin Richardson quickly committed his fifth foul of the night on Jerry Stackhouse, who calmly knocked down both attempts at the charity stripe. With 11 seconds left and trailing 111-108, the Suns had two options: go for the quick two and foul or try to tie the game with one shot.
Having a career 42.8 percent shooter from distance made the decision a rather easy one for the purple and orange.
While Mike D’Antoni tried to call a timeout after Stackhouse’s two free throws, Marion, the inbounds passer, and Nash never saw him — an occurrence that may have changed the course of the Suns’ history.
Instead, Nash took the inbounds pass from Marion and charged straight down the left side of the court. Seeing a back-peddling Jason Terry reluctant to pick him up after crossing the time stripe, Nash took three more right-handed dribbles — the last of which set up his late-game heroics.
After putting the ball on the ground for the third and final time, Nash in one fluid motion rose up with plenty of free space between he and Terry and connected on a game-tying three-point shot with 5.7 seconds still on the clock.
Jerry Stackhouse had a chance to play the hero after Nash’s shot, arguably the biggest during his eight years in Phoenix, but his 24-foot attempt fell off the mark and sent the two teams to overtime.
In the extra session, Marion took over. “The Matrix” scored 11 of his then-playoff career-high 38 points, as Phoenix pulled away en route to a dramatic 130-126 series-clinching, overtime victory over the Mavericks.
With the win, the Suns secured their first berth in the Western Conference Finals in 12 years. And though that series would go the San Antonio Spurs’ way in only five games, the 2004-05 campaign set the stage for an era of high-octane offense not seen before in either the Valley or the league.
The Mavericks, however, would get the final laugh over Nash and Co. Just a year removed from its heartbreaking series loss to Phoenix, Dallas exacted a measure of revenge, securing its first ever appearance in the NBA Finals with a Western Conference Finals-clinching victory on the US Airways Center floor.