Most will remember Jan. 22, 2006 as the night Kobe Bryant scored 81 points, but the 18,000-plus in attendance at the U.S. Airways Center and attentive NBA fans in the Pacific Northwest might remember that one of the greatest games of the 2005-06 NBA season - a 152-149 double-overtime thriller between the Sonics and Suns that ended with a buzzer-beater - happened on that same night.
To put things in perspective, here's a little more context for this Sunday in late January:
- At 3:30 p.m. PST, the Seattle Seahawks hosted the Carolina Panthers in the 2006 NFC Championship for a chance to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
- At 6:30 p.m. PST, Kobe, who was on an absolute offensive tear, and the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Toronto Raptors in one of nine NBA games.
Right in the middle at 5 p.m. PST, Ray Allen and the 15-24 Sonics visited reigning MVP Steve Nash and the 26-13 Phoenix Suns. It makes sense that this game might have been overlooked by both Seattle fans and NBA fans alike, but they missed an epic one.
Here's a look back at the greatest game you might not have heard of…
Seattle Supersonics @ Phoenix Suns
10 points and six assists from Luke Ridnour pushed Seattle to a six-point halftime lead over Phoenix. Ray Allen struggled early, scoring six points on 3-for-12 shooting and failing to connect on all four of his 3-point attempts, though his best was yet to come.
Nash did Nash things early, scoring 11 first-half points to go along with four assists. All-Star forward Shawn Marion led the way with a game-high 13 points and eight rebounds, but the Suns were 5-for-18 from deep at the midway point.
Halftime: Sonics 62, Suns 56
Led by 22 second-half points from Raja Bell (on 6-for-7 3-point shooting), the Suns' offence got going after the half. Nash scored 13 second-half points and added nine assists, and the Suns connected on 12-of-17 3-pointers to score 70 second-half points.
The Sonics' 64 point half was sparked by Ridnour in the third quarter and Allen in the fourth. In the third frame, Ridnour scored 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting and brought his assist total to nine. Through three quarters, Allen had just 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting, but the fourth was another story.
The All-Star guard didn't miss in the final frame, scoring 21 points while connecting on all five of his 3-point attempts, including a step-back jumper to go ahead 126-124 with 4.4 seconds remaining.
However, the excitement from Allen's jumper was short-lived: Nash responded with an extremely difficult cutting layup to tie the game at 126 with 1.6 left to play.
Time expires after Rashard Lewis' game-winning attempt is blocked by Shawn Marion. Overtime.
End of Regulation: Sonics 126, Suns 126
In the first overtime period, Allen continued to look for his offence, scoring five of the Sonics' 12 points. On the other end, Nash scored or assisted on eight of the Suns' 12 overtime points.
At the end of the first overtime period, Robert Swift and Shawn Marion exchanged midrange buckets to tie things up at 138.
It was only right that a game this epic would go into a second overtime period.
End of OT1: Sonics 138, Suns 138
Seattle and Phoenix traded buckets to begin the period, and the Suns held a 145-143 lead after a driving Boris Diaw layup midway through. The Sonics always had an answer, as the second overtime period saw three lead changes and four ties.
Raja Bell was responsible for the fourth and final tie of the overtime period, as he knocked down a contested midrange jumper to even things up at 149 with 11.0 seconds left on the clock.
The Sonics had put up an admirable fight, but it would take a miraculous play to get past the Pacific Division-leading Suns.
Phoenix had one foul to give, which it used with 2.5 seconds remaining. The pressure was on, but who better to respond than Allen?
Boom. Allen's eighth trey of the night gave him a season-high 42 points and gave Seattle a much-needed 152-149 win.
Final: Sonics 152, Suns 149
While Kobe's huge night dominated the landing page (and rightly so), the tilt between Seattle and Phoenix earned billing of NBA.com's "Game of the Night." It was fitting, as the 301 combined points scored were the most scored in 11 years. At the time, the 32 combined 3-pointers were an NBA record, but it has since been broken.
While there were a number of storylines from the game, Allen, one of the night's "Shooting Studs," was deservedly the topic of discussion postgame. Nash, who finished with 28 points, 16 assists and 8 rebounds, said: "[Allen] was obviously unbelievable. He just got in rhythm. I don't think it mattered what kind of look he got, he was just making shots."
Raja Bell, who scored a career-high 31 points (on 7-for-11 3-point shooting), was befuddled after the game's ending: "How do you explain a guy knocking down a 30-some footer to win a game. It's not really luck, but it's a tough thing to explain. It just happens."
In the fourth quarter and overtime, Allen scored 32 of his 42 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field and 8-for-10 shooting from deep. Not bad, considering he had shot just 26.7 percent from the field through three quarters. Despite the start, the Hall of Famer said, "as a shooter, I always got to keep shooting it."
That mentality is exactly what got him to the Hall of Fame.