After putting a heartbreaking end to the Jazz's season, Suns' hero and latest Jazz villain Kevin Johnson was talking up a storm as usual, semi-hero Eddie Johnson was talking to the media for the first time in weeks and absolutely nobody was talking about the Lakers, next on the agenda for Phoenix.
"I didn't even know they had a team down there," joked Suns Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons about L.A. "I'll talk to you about the Clippers.""We're just going to talk about Utah today," said Kevin Johnson, who sank the game-winning shot with just under one second left.
With an apparent muzzle on any discussion of the Lakers, the Suns were more than happy to discuss their Sunday triumph, which left the Jazz 0-3 on CBS this year. The Suns felt redeemed, much like the Jazz had two days earlier after their upset win in Phoenix.
While it may not have been appropriate for the series to come down to a final shot (the other four games were decided by 11 or more points), it was appropriate that Kevin Johnson, the focal point of the whole series, would be the one to take it.
With the score 102-102 and 15 seconds left, the Suns set up for a final play. "We spread the floor and wanted Kevin to make the decision, either to take the jump shot or dish to somebody. We put it in his hands and let him decide," said Fitzsimmons.
"I saw Mike McGee open on the baseline and saw two guys collapse on him," said Johnson. "He spotted me out by the foul line and I was able to quick-shoot it in. I didn't know how much time was left. I just saw (Bobby) Hansen coming at me." Johnson took the pass at the foul line and buried a quick jump shot with :00.8 remaining.
Johnson's heroics came after Eddie Johnson had made a pair of 3-point plays, on a shot from 23 feet with 1:17 left and the other on a drive and foul with 24 seconds left.
While Johnson & Johnson were the stars in the final 77 seconds for the Suns, they could thank former University of Utah star and off-season Utah resident Tom Chambers for giving them a chance for their heroics.
It was Chambers, who after an absolutely miserable series, almost singlehandedly kept Phoenix alive in the fourth quarter, when the Jazz were threatening to break the game open for good with a 10-point lead.
Chambers had 14 of his game-high 32 points in the 4th quarter, scoring 14 of 17 Suns points in a seven-minute span from the 8:43 to the 1:43 mark of the final period.
"It's been the hardest five games of my career," said Chambers, with his two sons nearby. "I felt a lot of pressure on me . . . from the community and with my family here and everything."
He started his run by making six straight free throws, then he popped in an 18-footer from the left angle, made a layup off a drive and scored on an inside shot, which pulled the Suns within one at 95-94.
"I was just trying to go to the hole - we wanted to be aggressive going into the basket," he said. "They were fouling the heck out of us and we were going to the line and making them."
After two more Chambers free throws made it 98-96, it was Johnson time.
John Stockton's shot was blocked by Mark West and Eddie Johnson came down and hit his 12th 3-point shot of the series. After Thurl Bailey put the Jazz on top, Johnson came down and drove up the middle and lost the ball out of bounds. "I thought Eaton fouled me on that," he said. "I wanted the ball back so bad. I wanted it in a hurry."
After a Jazz turnover, Eddie got another chance. He drove up the middle again and as Bobby Hansen fouled him, he fired up an off-balance shot that banked in. His free throw made it 102-100.
"I think Hansen got a hand on me and my instinct was to go on up to the basket. It just went in," he said.
The rest was up to the other Johnson, who had been the center of attention ever since sitting out most of Game 1 with a stomach virus.
The Suns wasted little time in getting out of Salt Lake, heading out on a 5:05 p.m. flight. With the clock reading 4:40, Fitzsimmons started to get antsy about making it.
"Let's go guys, I'm not going to stay in Salt Lake another night," he said. "I`ve been here long enough."