Atkins launched a 30-foot desperation shot at the end of the first overtime period Monday night to tie the game at 115 and help send the Grizzlies to a 134-126 double overtime victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
Rudy Gay scored 17 points, including six in the second overtime, to put the game out of reach for the Grizzlies, relieved to finally come out ahead in a close game after a string of tough losses.
While Gay's late scoring and Memphis connecting on 10-of-12 free throws in the final 1:33 helped seal the first Grizzlies victory since Dec. 6 at Boston, it was Atkins' jumper that had everyone talking. Officials reviewed the shot before ruling it good.
"I felt like it was going in because, as a shooter, you know when the ball feels good coming off your hand," said Atkins, who was a meager 4-for-12 from the field at the end of regulation. "I thought I shot it kind of long because I put a little more oomph on it because I was a little far. I knew it had good rotation."
Rashard Lewis, who led Seattle with a season-high 36 points and 14 rebounds didn't have as much faith in the shot at the time as Atkins.
"We didn't think that he would make the shot," Lewis said. "He did. They had the luck of the ball bouncing their way.
"Honestly, when he took the shot, I was getting ready to walk off the court because I knew he wasn't going to make it. He still made it, and you have to go back out and play another five minutes."
"It was a crazy shot," Sonics guard Luke Ridnour added.
Lewis connected on 10 of 22 shots from the field and 12 of 13 free throws as Seattle lost its fifth straight, all on the road. It marked the first time the Sonics have gone winless on a five-game road trip since 1987.
"This is the third one like that," Ridnour said of the close games on the trip. "This was the first one we've actually been up in the last seconds. Other times, we were trying to make things happen."
Lewis' rebound basket with 1.5 seconds remaining in regulation tied the score at 99, sending the game into overtime after Miller's last-second shot bounced off the rim.
But some of Seattle's drive seemed to disappear as Atkins shot settled through the net, snatching the win away from the Sonics in the first extra period.
"It just seemed like we were a little bit deflated," Ridnour said. "We tried to fight through it, and keep going, but we just came up short."
The Sonics were without leading scorer Ray Allen, who remains sidelined with a right ankle injury. But Memphis started to show signs of cohesiveness in its third game since the return of Gasol.
Gasol showed more aggressiveness from the start on offense, pushing the ball to the basket against rookie Andreas Glyniadakis, at one point beating him off the dribble from the foul line for a dunk. It was a flash of the old Gasol that Memphis fans hadn't seen at home since he returned to action Friday from a broken left foot. He finished 6-of-8 from the field, and his 15 points was his most productive of the three games since his return.
"Slowly, Pau is getting a little better each game," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said.
But the limited minutes also meant the All-Star forward was not available after the midway point of the fourth quarter, leaving him as a spectator as the two teams fought through regulation and the extra periods.
"Any win is big right now," Miller said of snapping the losing streak. "It doesn't matter when it comes or who is against. It's a big win for us."
- Sonics C Johan Petro entered the game shooting 66 percent (39-of-59) in his last 10 games. He was 3-of-6 against the Grizzlies.
- Lewis had connected on 48 of his last 49 free throws entering the game. His one miss Monday night came with 4.7 seconds left in the first overtime, leaving the score 115-112 and setting the stage for Atkins' tying 3-pointer.
- With the win, Memphis avoided matching it longest losing streak of the season -- seven games -- and snapped a four-game losing skid at home.
- It was Lewis' sixth double-double of the season, while Ridnour recorded his third.