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NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 5: And Ron Artest shall save them

May 28, 2010, 1:32 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Artest_Bryant.jpgPhil Jackson has seen everything.

Well, except a player go from goat to hero faster than Ron Artest did on Thursday night, he said.

With one minute left and the Lakers up three, Artest took an early-in-the-shot-clock three that literally had half of Staples Center yelling, “nooooo.” Fans scorned him — “Trevor Ariza never would have taken that shot” — and Jackson said he almost benched him.

“I don’t know why I left him in the game,” Jackson said. “I actually
questioned it myself when I put him out there on the floor, and there he
was. Made the key play.”

Tied 101-101 with 3.5 seconds left, the Suns defended the Lakers inbound play perfectly. Everyone in Staples (and watching at home, and in the Milky Way) knew the ball was headed to Kobe. It did, and Kobe went for the quick catch, spin and shoot from three. But Grant Hill got his hand in there to force Kobe to double-clutch. The shot was short and the game was headed to overtime.

Then came Ron Artest.

“I thought Kobe got fouled on the shot,” Artest said. “So I just kind of figured it was going to be short…. And it was a little short.”

While nine other players on the court were ball watching, Artest moved from the weak to the strong side, caught the short airball, landed, spun and put up a quick bank shot. Net. Lakers 103-101, and what had looked like a series that might get away from the Lakers suddenly is firmly in their grasp, up 3-2.

Was that the biggest shot of Artest’s career?

“Biggest layup,” he said.

Artest was mobbed by his teammates and Staples Center was as loud as it has been since last year’s NBA Finals. Maybe louder.

Up to that point, save for one big steal and break away layup, Artest had not had an impact on the game. Then he had the bad one with a minute left, first taking a questionable jumper with the Lakers up three. But Pau Gasol grabbed the rebound and kicked it back out to Artest for a full new 24-second clock. And Artest launched a three that almost made him the goat because the Suns now had life (and they had been fighting back all night). Two missed threes and two Suns offensive rebounds later, Jason Richardson called bank and hit the three that tied the game. Okay, he didn’t call bank. But nobody cares, it still counts. Game tied 101-101.

But then came the shot. Maybe THE shot of the playoffs so far. And there was nothing but love for Artest in Staples. He  was mobbed by teammates, fans screamed. And the Suns all felt nauseous.

  1. Frederick - May 28, 2010 at 1:54 AM

    Got to love Ron Artest. It goes to show that the most important time to perform is when it matters the most – and the Lakers can add another name to that list.

  2. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 28, 2010 at 2:29 AM

    Not to rain on our parade, but LA just took care of business. I reckon the Fat Lady will be singing in Phoenix come Saturday. So where are now those muchachos who would come out of their pens as soon as the Suns won Game 4? How convenient of them not to show up this time after Game 5. Wusses.

  3. Lakers4Lyfe - May 28, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    I really have developed an unhealthy hatred for the Phoenix Suns and thier fans. Now to ripping their guts out on their own home court, in front of their fans.
    OKC, its players, coaches and fans were likeable. Can’t say the same for Phoenix.

  4. luffy - May 28, 2010 at 5:03 AM

    Amen to Ron Ron. Nice play, very nice play…
    To all the haters, please spare us the stupid nonsense posts…
    Lakers all the way baby…

  5. Suns in Seven - May 28, 2010 at 6:12 AM

    Wow Lakers4Lyfe, you’ve really made me reassess my opinion of Laker fans. I always thought you guys were a class act.
    Guess not.
    Anyway, to answer your question, Suns fans are LAUGHING AT YOU after Game Five.
    Know why?
    Because now we know we can beat you on your home court. Even after digging an 18 point hole. With the coach violently ill on the sidelines.
    The only thing that saved you was a fluke shot that Artest happened to pull out of his ass. Even the Black Mamba cannot save you.
    The Suns will take care of home court on Saturday and come back to Staples Center on Monday – knowing that we can win, and that the entire world outside of So Cal is pulling for the Suns to end the Lakers’ reign.

  6. The Dude Abides - May 28, 2010 at 7:31 AM

    Begone, foul dwimmerlaik! Leave Phoenix in peace! I wouldn’t count them out just yet, despite the gut punch. I’m expecting another +20 FT discrepancy in Phoenix, so the Lakers will need to clean up their defensive glass if they want to prevail. They played through the calls in Game 4 against Orlando last season. They can do it again on Saturday, and they’ll probably have to.

  7. jerry black - May 28, 2010 at 8:12 AM

    That was a long 3.5 seconds.
    I think that the Suns got a taste of the Laker timer last night.
    Clearly, Artest shot the ball with time still on the clock. But when did the clock start??
    I’ve watched the video several times and it’s hard to see.
    Kobe took his shot with almost 3.0 seconds on the clock.
    I suspect that the clock did not start when Kobe first touched the ball. He had 2 defenders on him and he had to struggle just to get off the shot.

  8. Frank - May 28, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    Once again the corrupt officials make sure the Lakers hang around long enough to win.

  9. ocgunslinger - May 28, 2010 at 10:24 AM

    How come when “The other guys” win it must be because they were just lucky or the officials are corrupt? It is never the best team won. That is how you spot a “Losers” argument.

  10. Craig W. - May 28, 2010 at 10:31 AM

    …and to think that shot wouldn’t have been necessary if even a modicum of good officiating — read Bennett Salvatore — had been there to call Amare’s foul on Pau’s attempted dunk.
    This was a great game, and both Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant were simply incredible. It’s just too bad Bennett Salvatore is allowed to officiate any Laker games.

  11. phphlash - May 28, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    artest’s fluke shot? so richardson’s 26 foot 3 wasn’t fluke? oh that’s right, we heard him call ‘bank’ right before he let it go…

  12. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 28, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    Never said it would be easy picking for the Lakers to prevail. This is the WCF and one should expect that both remaining teams deserve to be there. If we want to claim our team as the best there is, then the validation must come in the form of beating the best the opposition can offer. That being said, I see the Lakers in the Finals. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. In the end it is still our team scoring more points than yours.
    @Suns in Seven: Knowing that you can win is fine and dandy. The question is: Have you done it? I could point out a lot of incidents of LA’s unforced errors and non-calls that allowed the Suns to get that opportunity in the endgame. Lucky? I guess. Then again, we wouldn’t be in such situation in the first place with a lot of “if only.” From Zero to Hero,it was Artest’s presence of mind to follow up on that shot. Bottomline: We are up 3-2. I’m not relying on luck. Rather, I rely on the experience, talents, and coaching of our team to bring us back to the Promised Land for the 16th time.

  13. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 28, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    You know, I just scratch my balls thinking: “What are these doofuses saying?” whenever these losers whine about officiating as soon as their team loses to the Lakers. If such were the case and if there is indeed a conspiracy, do you think that the 29 other team owners will allow that to happen? If it’s all about ratings, how come the next multi-champion of the recent years are the small market Spurs? Why not the Knicks? the LeChoke Cavs?

  14. Anonymous - May 28, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    anybody who watched the game and understands basketball knows there is no way suns should have 7 more free throws than lakers at staples center. odom and gasol were fouled on almost every shot and they went to the basket.they were quite obvious. however gasol touched richardson fingers for a 4 point play. i agree it is obvious the refs were corrupt once again in the suns favor.

  15. Le - May 28, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    How about Phil Jackson and the Lakers fans keep complaining about officiating after every loss? Every lakers loss, you’ll hear how the Suns get more free throw and such.

  16. Le - May 28, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    How about Phil Jackson and the Lakers fans keep complaining about officiating after every loss? Every lakers loss, you’ll hear how the Suns get more free throw and such.

  17. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 28, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    Complaining after EVERY LOSS? Phil? Us LA fans? BWAHAHAHAHA!!! What are you smoking there? Is that Agent Orange?

  18. Omnius - May 28, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    Ron Artest just earned his salary for the year with that one awesome last second layup that won game 5 in true Hollywood fashion. After being the goat for jacking up a quick three late Artest came back at the last second and became the newest Laker Hero in a large pantheon of great Laker players who come up big in the playoffs. How incredible that Ron Ron never hung his head after his gaffe from the three point line and he hustled at the last second to be in the perfect spot at the perfect time to grab Kobe’s short shot and put it back in while the Lost Suns were all ball watching instead of blocking out.

  19. guy - May 28, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    San Antonio is not a small market you idiot

  20. Kayoss - May 28, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    This is what I call a Playoff Game!!! Dont like watching a blowout, very boring and predictable. Lakers took care of business but I have to give the Suns credit for coming back after a 18 points deficit. Love watching Steve Nash play, seem like this guy can not miss everytime he take a shot.
    Please do not give me any of this bullS@$% about officiating, this is basketball, a physical game. Officials can not make every single call, if they did the game would be slow and would just be a bunch of free throws. If you look at the stats, the Suns had 29 free throw attempt compared to Lakers 23. How can you say the officiating was in favor of the Lakers?? get the facts straight.

  21. [a] proxy - May 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    LET’S GO LAKERS! Lakers got through the zone defense just fine. Defensively they were a lot better, but didn’t play solid defense for the entire game which they need to do to finish out the series. Overall, very proud of the Lakers and Ron Artest for redeeming himself by making the game winning shot! GO LAKERS! BOSTON SUCKS!

  22. Yes! - May 28, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    Actually, idiot, the NBA considers San Antonio a small market, as does just about everybody else. In case you weren’t aware, Green Bay is also considered a small market in the NFL. Why? Because they are small markets.

  23. Yes! - May 28, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    That was supposed to be a reply to “guy”, not Omnius. I thought Omnius’ post was insightful and on-the-money. “guy”, on the other hand, should consider thinking about his posts before he makes them. I guess you could consider his post a “Ron Ron Shot” – let’s see it he can redeem himself with a game-winner now, or will shoot another airball…

  24. Lakers4Lyfe - May 28, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    I called it two days ago. Suns fans would whine like girls and claim bad officiating and blame refs when they lost game 5. THIS is why I despise this team, its players, coaches and fans. Whiners, all of them — and predictable.

  25. Anonymous - May 28, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    but you did not win. so your point is stupid. If gasol did not miss the dunk, If Artest did not quickly attempt a three from gasol’s rebound, if richardson did not make that “bank-shot” three. Ifs are always looked at when you lose. a loss is a loss.

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