Arizona teams and their best performances of 2022

Dec 31, 2022, 7:15 AM
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) has water poured on his head by teammate Damion Lee after an NB...

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) has water poured on his head by teammate Damion Lee after an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pelicans 118-114. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

As 2022 closes, it’s a good time to celebrate the accomplishments by some of our local sports teams and their athletes.

From crazy comebacks to strings of strong play to individual outbursts that helped their teams rally, here are some of the best performances — from the team and player perspectives — of the past calendar year.

ASU upsets No. 3 UCLA: Feb. 5

The Sun Devils survived a big game for the No. 3 UCLA Bruins’ two big guns of Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr., whose combined 47 points weren’t enough in a triple-overtime loss.

For ASU, the game marked a turning point. The team had struggled to find a grip through heavy offseason roster turnover and a series of midseason cancellations before conference play began.

Arizona State forward Jalen Graham put together a wonky stat line of 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists that showed his short-roll mastery and underrated passing.

Guard Marreon Jackson dropped 24 off the bench in a game where offense was at a premium. ASU shot just 40% overall but the Sun Devils held UCLA to 37% shooting.

The puck finds Schmaltz vs. Senators: March 5

Nick Schmaltz set a Coyotes franchise record with seven points, via two goals and five assists, in a high-scoring shootout against the Ottawa Senators that ended in an 8-5 Arizona win.

The Coyotes led 4-0 well into the second period before a three-goal flurry by the Senators had things turned heading into the third.

Just a minute into the final period, it was tied. Two minutes in, the Coyotes trailed, 5-4.

Schmatz assisted a run of four goals for Arizona in the final 16 minutes as the team recovered for a decisive victory.

The five assists tied a franchise record last hit by Keith Tkachuk in 2001.

CP-erfect: April 28

When Chris Paul played well last postseason, the Suns tended to win. So when it came to a Game 6 close-out opportunity against the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs, Paul’s perfection helped Phoenix advance with a 115-109 victory.

The point guard went 14-of-14 from the field to score 33 points. It was the most field goals attempted without a miss in any NBA playoff game.

Just more than a week ahead of his 37th birthday, Paul added five rebounds and eight assists in the win — though he lamented the three turnovers — that advanced the Suns to the conference semifinals, where they would face and ultimately lose to the Dallas Mavericks.

Gallen’s streak: Aug. 8 – Sept. 11

A scoreless stretch of innings from Aug. 8 to Sept. 11 saw Zac Gallen move into the a top-10 list in the live-ball era.

The righty’s 44.1 consecutive scoreless frames ended as the seventh-longest in MLB history and surpassed former Diamondback ace Brandon Webb’s previous franchise record of 42.1 scoreless frames.

Gallen did it with efficiency, making it at least six frames in every game during the run that ended against the Colorado Rockies.

The stretch included a 12-strikeout game on Aug. 18 against the San Francisco Giants, which was the team’s third shutout in a row with Gallen starting on the mound.

Gallen closed his stellar year with a 2.54 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP that was second in the majors, plus a 12-4 record.

Cardinals rally to walk off Raiders: Sept. 18

There weren’t a ton of grand performances from the Arizona Cardinals in the 2022 calendar year, but a Sept. 18 game against the Las Vegas Raiders qualifies as a standout performance — at least thanks to the drama.

Down 20-0 at halftime, Arizona rallied to pull within 23-15 and got the ball back with 4:43 left in the game. The Cardinals went on an 18-play drive capped by Kyler Murray’s three-yard scramble for a score and a wild two-point conversion completion to A.J. Green in the back of the end zone with 0:00 on the clock.

The Cardinals turned it over on downs to start overtime but five plays into the Raiders’ possession got a forced fumble by Isaiah Simmons that was scooped up and run back by cornerback Byron Murphy for a 59-yard walk-off.

Jayden de Laura vs. Colorado: Oct. 1

Jayden de Laura went 33-of-46 to tie the team record with six touchdown passes, didn’t throw a pick and put up 484 passing yards, good enough for the fifth-most in a single game in Arizona history.

Yes, it was against a miserable Colorado Buffaloes team that after the 43-20 loss was 0-5, having surrendered 673 total yards, the fourth-most in the team’s history.

So while Arizona was busy updating its record books later that week, the Buffs responded by firing head coach Karl Dorrell.

Book pours in 58 vs. Pelicans: Dec. 17

In a game that the Suns looked like they had no part in competing in, Booker decided he wasn’t having it.

Phoenix trailed by as much as 24 points — and that came in the middle of the third quarter — but rallied behind a 20-point third quarter from Booker. He poured in 16 more in the fourth to stave off 18 from New Orleans’ Zion Williams in the period as the Suns pulled out an improbable 118-114 win.

Booker’s final line: 58 points on 21-of-35 shooting with five assists and six rebounds.

And if you watch the tape, it’s hard not to appreciate the skill it took to drop 58 as the Pelicans hounded him.

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