TSL NBA Playoffs Throwback Attack: The Kiss of Death 

In Game 7 of a classic semifinals matchup between the Suns and Rockets, the stage was set for a dramatic finish in a game chock-full of superstars.  Suns point guard Kevin Johnson was incredible, scoring 46 points (21 coming from the foul line) and dishing out 10 assists. Charles Barkley came up big with 18 points, 23 rebounds and five assists. The visiting Rockets stayed in the game thanks in large part to a pair of 29-point outputs from Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler and an 18-point performance from Sam Cassell off the bench.

However, the hero of the game was none of the above. With 7.1 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, shooting guard Mario Elie sank a sideline three that gave the Rockets a 113-110 advantage. As the Rockets bench celebrated, Elie blew a kiss to the stunned Phoenix crowd. Houston would win, 115-114, and advanced to the Western Conference Finals once again. It was the second straight season in which the Suns had led the Rockets 3-1 only to lose the final three games.

Houston went on to the NBA Finals and swept the Orlando Magic in four games. Mario Elie would win three titles in his career, two with the Rockets and one with the San Antonio Spurs. For the Suns, it was an especially devastating loss, particularly because Barkley told reporters after the game that he planned on retiring:

"I'm not saying this is 100% done, but I'll say more than likely I have played my last game," said the 32 year-old, who had played through back issues for years. "It's just time. It's time. I can't see my skills getting better; I can only see them getting worse."


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