Chandler’s last-second dunk sends Suns past Grizzlies
PHOENIX — Jay Triano will always remember his 100th NBA coaching victory, one that came thanks to a play he kept in his hip pocket for 15 years and dusted off to steal a last-second win.
The play is called “Rim.” And it took 0.2 second to pull off.
Tyson Chandler slammed home an alley-oop dunk off Dragan Bender’s inbounds feed with 0.4 second left, and the Suns held off the Memphis Grizzlies for the second time in six days with a 99-97 win Tuesday night.
Memphis tied the score at 97 when Jarell Martin dunked Tyreke Evans’ miss with 0.6 second left, and the teams seemed headed to overtime.
With the subsequent inbounds play moved to midcourt, Bender threw the ball just over the far side of the rim, where Chandler was waiting to slam it down. Many of the fans and some of the players were confused, but Triano and the referees knew it was a game-winner.
At a coaching clinic 15 years ago, Triano asked NBA referees if goaltending applies on an inbounds pass. Told it didn’t, Triano had his play and kept it under wraps. When he showed it to his players a few days after taking over as coach in October, most of them thought he was crazy.
“It’s a rule a lot of people don’t know,” Triano said. “You can’t goaltend a basket that isn’t going to count (because it came from out of bounds). So I told our guy to shoot the ball and all Tyson has to do is touch it on the way down or grab the rim and have it hit your knuckle.
“I’ve tried to keep it a secret, and it’s not a secret anymore.”
Devin Booker scored 32 points in his return to the lineup for the Suns, who beat the Grizzlies 97-95 on Dec. 21 when Evans missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Phoenix blew a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter Tuesday and Booker fouled out in the final minute, but the Suns still found a way to win for the fourth time in the last six games.
Evans scored 25 points and Marc Gasol had 18 for the Grizzlies (10-24), who have lost 20 of the past 24.
“Tyson did a good job using two hands to get some space on Brandan (Wright) and he was able to catch the lob,” Memphis interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “It is what it is.”
Chandler is in his 16th NBA season; but, when Triano first told him about the play, he thought his coach needed a rule book.
“I said, ‘It’s not goaltending?’ And he said, ‘Not from out of bounds,’” Chandler said. “So as soon as (the situation came up), I said, ‘We’re running the play?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, we’re running it.’”
Gasol missed 12 of 16 shots and all four in the fourth quarter.
“I played awful,” he said. “I made the wrong read too many times, too many bad plays in the fourth quarter.”
TJ Warren scored 17 points for Phoenix. He and Booker, who had missed the past nine games with an adductor strain, each had four points during a 9-0 run early in the fourth quarter that put Phoenix ahead, and the Suns carried the lead all the way down to the final second.
Booker wasted no time getting into the flow. He scored or assisted on 14 of the first 17 Phoenix points, with his 3-pointer giving the Suns a 17-10 lead. Warren completed the 12-0 run on a jumper with 3:24 left to make it 21-10.
Booker scored 20 points in 17 first-half minutes but said he felt winded most of the game.
“I always tell people I get out of shape in three days,” he said. “I was trying to fight through that fatigue mentally and physically. We ended up getting the win, so I’m good.”
The Suns led 57-53 at halftime and 70-65 late in the third quarter when the Grizzlies went on a 15-6 run and pushed ahead 80-76 on Dillon Brooks’ fast-break layup a minute into the fourth.
NOTES: Grizzlies F JaMychal Green (knee) and F Chandler Parsons sat out the game (rest, knee). Parsons had skipped the back end of back-to-back games all season, but this time he missed the first game. ... Memphis interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said G Mike Conley, who has missed the past 22 games with a sore left Achilles, is practicing and improving. However, no date is set for Conley’s return. ... Suns G Isaiah Canaan scored at least 10 points in each of his first five games since he was signed Dec. 13. However, the streak ended Tuesday, when he scored four points and missed both of his shots from the floor.