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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Celtics in Land of the Suns after triple OT win
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

June 4, 1976

It is likely the greatest game in NBA history, the triple-overtime thriller between the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns in the fifth game of the finals. John Havlicek has a chance to win it in regulation for the Celtics, but he makes only one of two free throws with 19 seconds left and the game goes into OT.

It is the second overtime that makes this game really special. Incredibly, seven points are scored in the final five seconds. Curtis Perry's jumper puts the Suns up 110-109, but then Havlicek banks in a lunging jumper. The crowd at Boston Garden storms the court, thinking the game is over.

But the referees put a second back on the clock. When they do, a fan attacks Richie Powers, one of the officials. Rather than taking the ball out from under the Boston basket, guard Paul Westphal shrewdly calls a timeout for the Suns, knowing they don't have any left. This results in a technical, which Jo Jo White converts for a 112-110 lead. But now the Suns can take the ball out at half court.

The strategy works as Garfield Heard takes the inbounds pass and beats the buzzer with a high arching jumper from beyond the top of the key, with Don Nelson's hand in his face.

In the third overtime, substitute Glenn McDonald, playing only because Paul Silas fouled out, scores six points as the Celtics break a 118-118 tie and earn a 128-126 victory.

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