PHOENIX (AP) -Jason Richardson credits ``the basketball gods.'
That's as good a way as any to explain the final 1.1 seconds of regulation in Phoenix's 123-118 double-overtime victory over Memphis on Friday night.
Richardson scored five of his 38 points in that tiny span and, thanks to a made free throw that Rudy Gay intended to miss, the Suns forced overtime and stole what seemed a certain Memphis victory.
``I haven't done that in my lifetime,' Richardson said. ``That was just a crazy turnaround. They thought they had a win. I guess the basketball gods were on our side.'
Steve Nash scored 13 of his 25 points in the overtimes to send Memphis to its third loss in a row.
Memphis seemed safely ahead when O.J. Mayo's two free throws made it 98-94 with 3.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
But Richardson banked in a 3-pointer to make it 98-97 with 1.1 to go, then Nash fouled Gay on an inbound pass. The referees put 0.4 seconds on the clock.
Gay missed the first free throw and clearly intended to miss the other so time would run out. But it went in and, after a timeout, the ball moved to Phoenix's frontcourt and Grant Hill lofted a perfect lob to Richardson at the rim. The shot went in to tie it at 99.
``Grant threw a great pass,' Richardson said. ``He's known for great passes. He threw one to Christian Laettner to win the game (for Duke against Kentucky 18 years ago) so he threw a great pass up there and I almost missed the layup, the dunk or whatever you want to call it, but I'm glad it rolled in.'
Memphis was without head coach Lionel Hollins and assistant Johnny Davis, who attended the memorial service for former teammate Maurice Lucas. That left assistant coach David Joerger in charge.
``I might have played guys too many minutes,' Joerger said. ``I don't know. Maybe that's why we missed some free throws.'
Gay blamed the loss on ``a couple of immature mistakes,' especially the made free throw.
``I was trying rim it off the front so I could give my team a chance to tip it out,' he said.
Instead, it was perfect.
``It was a lot of weird things that happened in that game,' Mayo said, ``some controllable, some uncontrollable. It was a tough loss to take.'
Richardson's sixth 3-pointer in seven attempts put Phoenix ahead for good in the second overtime. Nash followed with a pair of short bank shots and the Suns led 116-110. A rare missed free throw by Nash gave Memphis a shot at tying the game, but Gay misfired on a 3-pointer with seven seconds left and Phoenix put it away with free throws.
Marc Gasol scored 26 points on 12 of 13 shooting for Memphis before fouling out with 2 1/2 minutes left in the second overtime. Zach Randolph, back after missing three games with a bruised tailbone, scored 12 on 3 of 11 shooting but grabbed 14 rebounds.
Gay added 26 to set a franchise record of six straight 20-point games to open the season.
Mayo added 23 points and Mike Conley scored 16 but missed four of six free throws in the overtime.
Hedo Turkoglu scored 15 of his 18 in third and fourth quarters in his best game since coming to Phoenix. Hakim Warrick had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Goran Dragic added 13 as the Suns bench outscored its Memphis counterpart 40-15.
In the first overtime, Richardson's 18-foot jumper put Phoenix ahead 109-108 with 25 seconds to go. Conley drove toward the basket and was fouled by Nash with 6.6 seconds to go. But Conley missed the first free throw, then made the second to tie it at 109-109. Nash missed a 3-pointer and the Suns had a pair of tip-in attempts but couldn't score as the buzzer sounded.
Memphis led by 18 in the first quarter and was up by 10 at the half in a sloppy game that turned electric at the finish. There were 54 turnovers in the contest, 28 by Phoenix and 26 by Memphis.
Notes: Hollins and Davis were teammates with Lucas on Portland's 1977 NBA championship team. ... Memphis has one more stop on a four-game trip, Saturday night in Sacramento. ... Richardson scored 15 of his team's 20 points in the first quarter. ... Phoenix avoided its first three-game home losing streak since Jan. 16-31, 2009.
The Associated Press News Service
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