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Phoenix wins a classic

Published Oct. 9, 2005

The Phoenix Suns put themselves back into contention in the NBA Finals on Sunday night with a 129-121 triple overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls lead the best-of-seven series 2-1, with Game 4 Wednesday night in Chicago. The Bulls, trying to become the third team to win three consecutive NBA titles, also play host to Game 5 Friday night.

Suns forward Charles Barkley was hampered by a swollen right elbow that had to be drained before the game. But he managed 24 points and 19 rebounds.

The Suns gave Barkley plenty of support for the first time in the series. Kevin Johnson bounced back from an abysmal opening two games to score 25 points in a playoffs-record 62 minutes, Dan Majerle had 28 and Richard Dumas 17. Majerle tied a Finals record with six three-pointers.

Johnson was criticized heavily for his play in the first two games but said he didn't feel as if his record-setting performance was any sort of vindication.

"It's just a good win for the team," he said.

Asked if he wanted to come out at any time, Johnson said no.

"In the second half, it's just a matter of emotions," he said. "You'll do anything to win."

Michael Jordan scored 44 points for the Bulls, who took only nine free throws in the 63 minutes. Scottie Pippen scored 26 points for Chicago.

The Suns lost the only other triple-overtime game in Finals history to Boston in 1976.

It was the Bulls' first playoff loss at home this season.

Phoenix led 58-57 at halftime. Dumas scored 15 points and Johnson added 12 as Phoenix withstood a 22-point performance by Jordan.

Barkley left with 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter and Chicago ahead 29-21. By the time he returned with 6:53 left in the half, the Suns had gone on a 23-9 run for a 44-38 lead.

With the score 48-40, Chicago went on a 15-6 run, with Jordan and Pippen scoring five points each, for a 55-54 lead 1:56 before halftime.

Dumas hit two free throws before Jordan's jumper restored Chicago's one-point lead. Barkley then scored on a goaltending call with 30 seconds left for the 58-57 advantage.

The Suns scored the last eight points of the first quarter to tie it at 29. Johnson hit two free throws with 50 seconds left and Oliver Miller had a tip-in with 21 seconds to go.

After an offensive foul against Pippen, Johnson hit a jumper with 4.3 seconds remaining. Dan Majerle then stole the ball and fed Dumas for a dunk with 1.3 seconds left.