The Phoenix Suns came out flat for three and a half quarters, but came all the way back from a 16-point deficit with six minutes remaining to tie the contest at 111-111, only to experience James Harden sink his first career buzzer beater to win a game.
But the players didn't want to talk about the magic and excitement of the comeback attempt. All they cared about was how they shouldn't have gotten to that point in the first place.
"We gave up so many fast-break points, layups and dunks," Tucker said. "We fought back and were resilient in the end but there were so many before that."
"That's what happens when we play a game like that," Isaiah Thomas said afterward. "You could kind of see it against Portland the other night when they fought so hard to come back and then we finished them off. It's tough when you're down and you fight so hard and you feel like you should have one and things like that happen."
The deficit began all the way back in the first quarter, when the Rockets went on an 11-0 run to take a 30-18 lead.
"From the start, they weren't intense," coach Hornacek said. "We gave up so many easy things that I would say for the first eight minutes of the game, everything that we went over on our scouting report this morning, on the board before the game, the guys did none of it.
"I don't know what we were doing that first eight minutes," he continued. "it's a sign that you're not ready to play and you're not focused. Yeah, they made a great comeback but it should've never got to that point. If we would have come from the start of the game, doing the things that we were supposed to do, we would've jumped in the lead and put a lot of pressure on them. Instead, we let them have the lead most of the game."
After the first eight minutes, the Suns played more inspired ball but just couldn't put together a good run. Bad rotations, leaky defense allowing fast breaks... what could go wrong did go wrong.
I write the recap notes while the game is going on and use twitter to vent. You can see my timeline for the progression of bad execution throughout the game by the Suns most of the game.
Guard Eric Bledsoe chose to look on the Bright Side.
"They made shots," he said. "We thought we played great defense. They made shots. We were a little bit slow to everything, but you know we picked it up and got ourselves back in the game, got ourselves a chance to win and that's all you can ask for."
Let's take Eric Bledsoe's cue and focus on the end of the game. The Suns made a great comeback, with Markieff Morris scoring 11 points in the final quarter, including two huge three-point plays and a putback to consistently put pressure on the Rockets to find a way to close it out before the Suns took the lead.
The Suns run was 25-9 over the final six minutes to make the Rockets nervous and get the fans excited.
"They keep us on our toes," Rockets guard Patrick Beverley said afterward. "They keep us honest all game; they're three guard monster. It forces us to play at a high level all game and you have to give credit to their coaching staff that they go out there and they battle, they scrap, they fight for everything and that just raises the standards of Rocket's basketball and how we have to be."
Keef got the Suns all the way to a tie game. Until Harden did Harden.
"We wanted to take the last shot," coach Kevin McHale said. "We flattened it out for James and James has been making big shots all year and he's got the ability to step back and gather, strong and goes up and shoots it. It was a big shot for us."
That's good coaching right there, setting Harden up for the game-winning iso. It worked.
"It's a great feeling," Harden said after the game. "They're a very good team. We had a pretty solid game but we knew they were going to make a run. We made it at the perfect time and we hit the last shot; make it or miss it and go into overtime. I made it. Usually I go at 8 or 9 seconds but I waited until 3 or 4 seconds. Hey man, the ball goes in or it doesn't. Fortunately, I made the basket. Tie game, on the road, you live for those moments."
Harden has lived a lot of years and finally got to experience making a game-winner. It was really a great game by Harden overall. The NBA's leading scorer poured in 33 points (14 on free throws), dished 10 assists, grabbed 6 rebounds and swiped 3 steals.
You might count this a good loss. Or you might not.
But you can't deny that it was memorable, and that the Suns fought back like they have been all year to make it close.
Kudos to the team for having that fight.