There were exactly nine tenths of a second to go in Game 2 and the Los Angeles Clippers were very close to signing a small heist Tuesday night in Phoenix. Led almost since the break, they had passed again in the last thirty seconds thanks to six points in a row from Paul George.
But Jae Crowder, inside the Suns, sent his throw-in to the millimeter above the opposing basket, and Deandre Ayton appeared to slam the dunk. After one minute of video verification, the referees validated the basket. The Clippers still had a throw-in with seven tenths of a second on the clock, but they failed to take a shot. After this stunning victory (104-103), Phoenix leads two wins to zero in the final of the Western Conference. Game 3 will take place Thursday through Friday night in Los Angeles.
The Arizona team is approaching its first NBA final since 1993, when Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson had to admit defeat in front of the Bulls of Michael Jordan.
Once again, Phoenix had to compose without its leader Chris Paul, still stuck by the Covid protocol. After his fantastic Game 1, Devin Booker, targeted by the Clippers, this time left his Superman cape in the locker room, limited to 20 points at 5/16 in the shoot.
But Cameron Payne rose to the challenge (29 pts, 9 pd), and Deandre Ayton to that of a number one draft that he was in 2018: 24 points, a huge 12/15 in shoot, 14 rebounds, and therefore this absolutely decisive action as the game took off.
The Clippers have visited that rift before this season: they were led two first-round wins to zero by the Dallas Mavericks and then to the second by Utah, before winning in seven and six games, respectively.
This defeat may however be difficult to cash for the men of Los Angeles, who still do not know when they will find Kawhi Leonard (knee). In trouble at long distance (1/8), Paul George regained his spirits in the last minutes (26 pts, 6 rebounds in total), Reggie Jackson signed 19 points and Ivica Zubac swallowed 11 rebounds, but it was all a little too fair. Out of the bench, Nicolas Batum hardly weighed (3 pts, 2 rebounds, 0 p.d. in 16 min.).