We nearly had the play of the year in the 2020-21 NBA season during Wednesday night’s meeting between the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers.
With the Suns up two and 0.8 seconds left, Chris Paul came to the free throw line for Phoenix to permanently ice out the game.
He made the first, and the second one bounced high off the front of the rim. 76ers center and MVP candidate Joel Embiid grabbed it and hucked it down the court toward the basket, somehow getting it off in time and nearly sinking the game-tying shot to go to overtime.
The Suns held on 116-113.
Paul clarified after the game that he was indeed trying to make the second, obviously, given the Suns would have gone up four.
“I didn’t miss it on purpose, and then, that shot — it was in and out,” Paul said. “I ain’t ever seen nothing like it.”
Embiid was a few steps inside the opposing free-throw line, so 80 feet is a solid estimate on the distance.
“Just one of those things that could have made for a really long flight, long night and not a lot of sleep,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said.
Everyone on the court was in shock.
“Bro he almost made that!” Mikal Bridges said after the fact.
“If he would have made that, I don’t know how I would have reacted,” he added.
Bridges and Paul looked at Embiid like they couldn’t believe what they had just seen. Devin Booker stood under the basket and stayed there for a bit.
“He let it go and that thing was on a line, just headed right towards the hoop,” Suns wing Cam Johnson said. “I was like, ‘No way, no way. Ain’t no way.’ Then it kinda rattled around the rim … That was a heck of a display of a throw right there just in general. We were all in shock a little bit by how close it was. I’m glad it didn’t go in.”
On top of that, Philadelphia was in that spot after Embiid and Furkan Korkmaz hit back-to-back 3s with under 10 seconds left to get it down to a two-point deficit.
Twitter exploded even if the shot didn’t go in.