1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 1 – Indiana 107 New York 105
The definitive moment for the definitive clutch shooter in NBA history came in Madison Square Garden in the course of nine seconds. Let’s thank Spike Lee for being an idiot, Anthony Mason for being an airhead, Greg Anthony for tripping and falling over, and of course, Reggie Miller for not being human.
While it’s slightly overrated – the man hit a three, stole a pass and hit another three. We’ve seen that before – it still happened in the playoffs against his most bitter rival. It was like he planned it. Miller always saved his best for the Knicks, a grudge he could never get rid of. For Knicks fans, it was like going to see Transformers 3 knowing it would suck, and then leaving the theater a few hours later saying “Yep, that was one of the worst movies I’ve seen.”
It was inevitable.
1994 NBA Western Conference Semifinals Game 2 – Phoenix 124 Houston 117
For a while, this was the biggest fourth quarter comeback in NBA history. Phoenix was down by 18 at the start of the quarter and 20 with only 10 minutes to go. Charles Barkley went off for 34 points, and the Rockets were held to only eight in the fourth quarter. By the time overtime began, mentally, Houston was a defeated team. Ironically, it was the Suns who blew a 2-0 series lead and lost in Game 7, and then had to watch the Rockets march all the way to a title.
2011 Western Conference First Round Game 4 – Portland 84 Dallas 82
Now that Brandon Roy has left the building, his final fleeting, standout performance in the NBA is all the more memorable. At the time he dropped 18 fourth quarter points to bring the Blazers back from 18 down (and 23 in the final minute of the third), we were sure things were changing in Portland. But no one expected Roy to call it a career just months later. Not after this. Not after the way he carved up Dallas’ “vaunted” defense in the closing quarter.
Roy’s output in the series is all you need to describe how miraculous it was. He dropped 21 in this game-closing run, but scored only 35 total points in the rest of the series (six games). The Blazer fans, knowing they were seeing something special from a player who clearly was never going to be the same, had it popping like a concert… a far cry from the way they sounded after Portland missed their first 15 shots of the game.
It was a flashback to better days for Portland fans, and only the third time in the shot clock era that a team has overcome a deficit of at least 18 in the fourth quarter.