The Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls submitted an early-season candidate for Game of the Year last week with a double-overtime marathon affair, but the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns may have topped it Monday night.
In a ridiculous back-and-forth contest, the Clippers pulled out a 121-120 overtime victory on a Blake Griffin three-pointer at the buzzer to win their eighth straight game. The game-winner capped off a 45-point night for Griffin, which was a season high. Chris Paul had 20 points and 10 assists, while DeAndre Jordan had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe notched a triple-double in the loss, putting up 27 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds. Bledsoe also momentarily saved the game for Phoenix at the end of regulation by blocking Paul's game-winning attempt.
The fourth quarter of this game was just nuts. Los Angeles led by nine points heading into the final frame, but Phoenix stormed back and went up by as many as five. Then the Clippers turned right around and went up by five before the Suns closed the gap again to send it to overtime. Phoenix led by four in the final minute of the extra period, but they couldn't hold on.
There were so many wild and crazy plays in this thriller, and we're here to compile them.
1. Dragic goes behind-the-back
The game started rather harmlessly, but Goran Dragic got the fun going with a nifty layup (via That NBA Lottery Pick):
Not only was the behind-the-back move just awesome in general, but it also schooled Paul in the process. Not too shabby. Dragic finished with 17 points and eight assists.
2. Cunningham pulls a Crawford
The Clippers are the kings of the four-point play. Usually it's Jamal Crawford doing the opponent dirty, but this time it was Jared Cunningham.
Right after Bledsoe appeared to put the Suns up by one going into halftime, Matt Barnes used his quarterbacking skills and found Cunningham open with a deep pass. The rarely used Cunningham buried the three at the buzzer with Bledsoe bearing down on him, and contact was made on the shot.
The three was Cunningham's second of the season, and he buried the free throw to complete the four-point play.
3. Crawford ejected for 1st time ever
Not only was the fourth quarter crazy because of all the runs and big plays, but it also featured the first ejection of Crawford's career.
Crawford was initially called for a loose ball foul after getting mixed up with Bledsoe near center court. The Clippers guard wasn't happy with the call, and he said something to referee Mark Lindsay. The official then nailed Crawford with a technical and ejection.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers received a technical for arguing the call, and Rivers defended Crawford after the game, according to Beth Harris of the Associated Press:
"There was a lot of complaining by both head coaches, by all the players, and that's why I was so surprised by the ejection," Rivers said. "Jamal's probably the most soft-spoken guy of all of them, and he's the one that gets it."
Griffin added that it "was the craziest ejection" he had ever seen. Prior to this ejection, Crawford had made it through 1,017 games without getting thrown out in his career.
4. Bledsoe saves the day...for the time being
It looked like Paul had a path to the basket for a potential game-winner, but Bledsoe was having none of that (via YouTube):
Bledsoe said afterward he anticipated the floater, which was clear given the mammoth rejection. Unfortunately for the Suns guard, things didn't go nearly as well to close out the overtime. Bledsoe was called for goaltending on a J.J. Redick shot that made the score 120-118 before Griffin delivered the dagger moments later.
5. Griffin: Not just a dunker
Griffin is known for his monster dunks, and what do you know, he had one of those against Phoenix:
But Griffin isn't just a dunker, and the play of the night was his buzzer-beating three that got quite the friendly bounce:
Griffin went 2-of-2 from three-point land on Monday, and he's now 6-of-10 from deep on the young season. In his first four seasons in the NBA, the big man went just 26-of-112 on threes. This was also Griffin's first career buzzer-beater and the first by a Clipper in the regular season since Baron Davis in 2009*, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Yep, that's about right.
*Editor's Note: This post initially said Griffin's buzzer-beater was the first by a Clipper since 2009. This was incorrect, because Paul had one in the playoffs in 2013. Griffin's was the first in the regular season since 2009.