With the sports world on hold, Cronkite News will take a daily look at this day in sports history and reflect on some of the biggest moments in Arizona sports.
PHOENIX – One word best described the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns’ playing style: pace. Fifteen years ago today, that pace helped the team clinch its first Pacific Division in 10 years.
The accomplishment came with a 116-87 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in what then was called America West Arena. Steve Nash had a triple-double and Quentin Richardson set team records for 3-point shooting.
Richardson broke Dan Majerle’s marks for 3-pointers and 3-point attempts in a season, prompting Majerle, who was sitting courtside as a game analyst, to wipe away a fake tear. Richardson went 4 for 11 to finish with 201 made in 559 tries.
“The whole thing that we try to do is play a fast-paced game, keeping the tempo up and having great ball movement and great teamwork and having guys all pulling for each other,” then-Suns coach Mike D’Antoni told Suns Gametime.
The Suns were known for getting the ball upcourt as quickly as possible, and putting a shot up early in the shot clock, leading to the moniker, “seven seconds or less” Suns. The style created problems for opposing defenses, both in transition and in matchups.
“They’re the most unique team in the league,” said Stan Van Gundy, who was coaching the Miami Heat at the time. “I mean that style of play is incredible.”
In 2005, the Suns were the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The only team that was able to counter their aggressive playing style was the San Antonio Spurs, led by coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs defeated the Suns in five games in the Western Conference Finals and went on to win the NBA title.
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