Almost every NBA player has that heat-check moment in their career. Mostly we see it from superstars, but sometimes the occasional role player can get hot and put on a show. After all, every single player in the NBA is there for a reason, as they have incredible talent. Sometimes it is all about opportunities. That precisely what Goran Dragic needed when he made playoffs history in 2010 with one of the best 4th quarter performances ever.
Back in 2010, in just his second season, a 24-year old Dragic was just a regular, occasional player, being the backup to the great Steve Nash. He was trying to find his place in the league and contribute on a nightly basis. Being the backup to one of the best point guards ever had its pros and cons, as he got great mentorship from Nash, but it also put a lot of pressure on Dragic to make the team run the right way with Nash on the bench.
At that time, the Suns were on the very end of their run of being a potential contender in the West. They would face the San Antonio Spurs in the second round in what many thought would be a tough battle. It would turn out to be an absolutely one-sided series. The Suns took the first two games at home, even though the young Dragic was struggling. But in a crucial game, 3 in San Antonio, everything turned around for Dragic.
There were no signs of what was about to happen as Dragic had 0 points towards the end of the 3rd quarter in a tight game. It all started with a three-pointer with one minute to go in the quarter, as he cut the Spurs lead to 3. It would be the starting point of a run like no other from an individual player. Dragic would score 23 points in the 4th quarter, putting his performance second all-time in the history of the NBA, with only Allen Iverson, who got 26 in 2001, being ahead of him.
It was unbelievable as we have never seen Dragic play like this to this point. He had terrific footwork in the paint faking out the Spurs defense and going up and under them. He was collapsing the defense with his lighting fast left-hand drives and adding to that, Dragic started striking them from deep no matter who was in front of him. The Suns’ bench was in a delirium; the two biggest stars Nash and Stoudamire were cheering like crazy from the bench as Dragic went on to seal the game for them.
Goran capped it off how he started it with a three-pointer, bringing the Suns from being 6 down when he began his run to the Suns, winning by 14 at the end. It was shocking to see a regular bench player be the most unstoppable player on the court for full 12 minutes, as nobody really knew what was happening. He had scored 20+ points only three times in his career until that point, but on this night, he did it in one quarter with excellent efficiency. The Suns would sweep the Spurs in the next game, but they ultimately got bounced by the championship Lakers in a tough six-game Conference Finals.
Dragic established a great career, as he is still going at it 34 years old for the Miami Heat. Unfortunately, he still hasn’t won a ring even though he was very close last season in the bubble. But even if he doesn’t win it, you can’t deny “The Dragon” has the heart of a champion.