Let’s face it, the NBA’s has its ups and downs. To counteract every time Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) jumps into the stands to attack a fan or Russell Westbrook assaults our eyes with a bad outfit (equally as violent), there’s a night when Kobe drops 86 in the Garden or the Heat rip off 27 wins in a row. Here are the 10 games of the past decade that kept us glued to our sets.
(Photo: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013)
10. Spurs 96, Pistons 95
Game 5, 2005 NBA Finals
This is the game where veteran Spurs forward Robert Horry officially earned the name, "Big Shot Bob." After getting their clocks cleaned in the two previous games of the series, San Antonio fought back in a tight, back-and-forth slugfest that featured a clutch shooting duel between the Pistons’ Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton and the Spurs’ Horry and Manu Ginobli. For his part, Horry poured in 21 points in the second half and overtime. At the end of the game Horry inbounded to Ginobli who passed it back to Horry, who was left all alone on the left wing. Free as a bird, Bob calmly drilled a three with 5.9 seconds left to give the Spurs a 96-95 victory and a 3-2 series lead. The game derailed the defending champion Pistons who lost the series in Game 6 and haven’t challenged for the championship since.
9. Knicks 111, Bobcats 109
December 20, 2006
The Knicks were trailing by 19 points in the game (which is hard to do if you’re playing the Bobcats), but climbed all the way back to tie the game at the end of regulation and force overtime. In the second OT with the game tied, the ‘Cats inevitably turned it over and the Knicks recovered and called time with 0.1 left. Inbounding the ball, Jamal Crawford threw a picture-perfect lob pass from the sideline which sailed perfectly over the rim where David Lee could leap up with with his right - non-shooting - hand, and drop the ball into the hoop for a beautiful buzzer-beating victory that made the Knicks the best team in the world…until the next game, of course. Then they sucked again.
8. Bulls 142, Nets 134
Game 4, 2013 NBA Playoffs (Opening Round)
This may not have been the greatest game for everyone, but it certainly was for Knick-bust Nate Robinson who’s become a Monster of the Midway in Chicago. The 5’9" guard’s biggest previous claim to fame was three slam-dunk championships…until he put in this towering performance against the Nets. Robinson tallied 34 points off the bench, with all but five coming after the 3rd quarter. It may have been the greatest single performance in NBA Playoff history. The performance was best summed up by teammate Luol Deng on Twitter: “Nate (Frickin’) Robinson.”
7. Mavs 119, Spurs 111
Game 7, 2006 NBA Playoffs (Western Semis)
One of the closest series in playoff history, it featured five nail-biting smack downs that separated the two squads by less than six points. In the deciding match, the Spurs blasted back from a massive Maverick 20-point advantage in the second half to actually wind up ahead by a triple as the game clock ticked down to the final buzzer. But just as the siren screamed, the Dunkin’ Deustchman Dirk Nowitzki drove to the hole, where he was incredibly fouled by a clearly delirious Manu Ginobli and then coolly drilled a foul shot to carry their cross-state rivals into an extra frame. The Mavs went on to ride Dirk’s 37 points in overtime and stampede over the Spurs in the rest of the series.
6. Knicks 92, Lakers 85
Feb. 10, 2012
The Knicks matched their one-month phenom, Jeremy Lin, against one of the greatest players in NBA history, Kobe Bryant…and won. Lin had the most incredible performance of his amazing Cinderella season (which actually only lasted a month), dropping 38 points and beating Bryant at his own game as New York bitch-slapped the heavily favored Lakers in a game you could have financed your retirement on if you were a betting man. A year later, Lin’s has landed back on planet Earth… and in a pretty nasty part of it (Houston). Kobe’s still on the way to the Hall of Fame. But for one night, everybody was enjoying a bad case of Lin-sanity.
5. Bulls 128, Celtics 127
Game 6, 2009 NBA Playoffs (First Round)
Unbelievably, this was the third-consecutive overtime game of a classic series that was the first to ever feature four OT thrillers, and this baby went into three of them. It also featured a 51-point explosion from a pre-geriatric Ray Allen who drilled a team playoff record nine 3-pointers, including one to tie the score, 118-118, forcing the third OT. Three Celtics fouled out in a game that featured a high school cafeteria-style “somebody-hold-me-back” brouhaha between Rajon Rondo and the Bulls’ Kirk Heinrich. Seeing red after the unpleasant exchange, the Bulls forced TWO overtimes after trailing 99-91 late in regulation. Joakim Noah literally stole the game from the Celts when he picked off a pass and ran the length of the court for a dunk that put the Bulls up three with 35.5 seconds to play. Rondo missed two chances to win it when Rose blocked his shot with three seconds left before launching an air ball at the buzzer.
4. Suns 161, Nets 157
Dec. 7, 2006
In an incredible shootout that included 34 lead changes and 21 ties, an amazing 38 point, 14 rebound, and 14 assist Jason Kidd triple-double (which tied him with Wilt Chamberlain for third on the all-time list) wasn’t enough to eclipse the Suns’ Steve Nash’s 42 points. Nash had to hit a desperation three at the end of regulation to force overtime and then Kidd had a rattle out at the end of the first overtime to keep things interesting. Kidd’s shot went so deep in the hole that Vince Carter ran off the bench to celebrate, only to walk back with his head in his hands. The point-guard smackdown was still up for grabs deep into the second overtime when, down by two, Kidd dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds to the Suns with 10 seconds left. The high-octane game included an amazing 224 shots, 27 three-point goals, and only 29 total turnovers, making it one of the best-played games in NBA history.
3. Lakers 74, Spurs 73
Game 5, 2004 NBA Playoffs (Western Semis)
This classic slugfest was a case of the last guy to get a shot in winning the fight. After All-World power forward Tim Duncan sunk a Hail Mary 20-foot bank shot (which he clearly didn’t call) with less than half a second on the clock, the Lakers’ chances seemed dried up. But after LA took a time-out, All-Greater Los Angeles guard Derek Fisher grabbed an inbounds pass and coolly spun and sunk a counter 18-footer to rub horse manure in the mugs of the Spurs. The Lakers walked away with a 3-2 series lead which they carried into the next game to close out the series.
2. Celtics 97, Lakers 91
Game 4, 2008 NBA Finals
The Celtics were down 21 in the fourth. Rajon Rondo was playing in pain. Kendrick Perkins had a bad shoulder, and Paul Pierce had to be carried off the court earlier in the series. Yet, somehow they put together the biggest comeback in nearly four decades of NBA Finals’ games. Boston's second-half charge included a 21-3 run over the final five minutes, fueled by two 3-pointers from Eddie House, who was getting more playing time because of Rajon Rondo’s ankle injury. They were still down by double digits with 2 minutes left in the third, but closed the quarter with a 10-1 run, capped by a thunderous dunk by P.J. Brown to storm past the Lakers on their way to the championship.
1. Heat 130, Bulls 127
March 9, 2009
This is a game both sides refused to lose…which is actually frowned upon in the rule book. The Bulls were up by 13 in the first half, but the Heat fired back in the third quarter, going up by 14. Then the Bulls came charging to tie the game and force overtime. The Heat went up again and were coasting home in the overtime with a five point lead and just 20 seconds left to play. Suddenly the Bulls rallied back to tie it again to force a second overtime. The game was tied three times in the second extra period, but with three seconds left and the score tied, Dwyane Wade stole the ball from John Salmons and drilled a three-point shot as the clock ran out, polishing off a 48 point performance. After the game, Wade said, “This is one of those games for the ages,” and wouldn’t you know it - he was right.