NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Ayton, Suns stun Clippers with last-second dunk for Game 2 win

By Sports Desk June 22, 2021

Deandre Ayton's dunk with less than one second to play gave the Phoenix Suns a stunning 104-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals. 

Ayton was the Suns' most reliable player throughout a back-and-forth affair and came up huge in the end, soaring to catch an inbounds pass from Jae Crowder over the rim and slam it home for the final margin. 

After the last in a series of lengthy video reviews in the final two minutes, the officials put 0.7 seconds on the clock for the Clippers, but Paul George could not get off a shot before the buzzer expired. 

With the Suns missing team leader Chris Paul due to COVID-19 protocols and their star Devin Booker having a difficult night, it was Ayton who came up huge Tuesday. 

The big man scored 12 points in the first quarter on the way to a 24-point night on 12-of-15 shooting in addition to grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds. 

On a night that saw Booker make only five of 16 shots from the field and turn the ball over seven times, Paul's replacement Cam Payne was a huge factor for Phoenix. 

Payne, whose previous career playoff scoring high was 19 points, scored 29 in 37 minutes on a memorable night in Phoenix. 

The Clippers were also missing a star as Kawhi Leonard sat out a fourth consecutive game with a knee injury, and George could not lift Los Angeles to victory by himself. 

The veteran led the Clippers with 26 points but made just 10 of 23 shots and missed two critical free throws in the closing seconds to give the Suns a chance to win it. 

The series shifts to Los Angeles on Thursday with the Clippers looking to bounce back at home. 

Related items

  • All-Star Murray suffers game-ending left ankle sprain All-Star Murray suffers game-ending left ankle sprain

    All-Star guard Dejounte Murray exited the Atlanta Hawks' game with the New York Knicks on Wednesday with a left ankle sprain.

    Murray, who was traded to the Hawks from the San Antonio Spurs in the offseason, limped off in the first quarter after only four minutes on court.

    The 26-year-old landed awkwardly on R.J. Barrett's foot as came down from a mid-range jump shot and was slow to get to his feet.

    The guard had initially been listed as questionable, before the Hawks later ruled him out for the game.

    Murray is averaging a career-high 21.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.5 assists through 24 games this season for the Hawks, who came into Wednesday's game with a 13-11 record.

  • Paul expected to return for Suns against Celtics after month-long absence Paul expected to return for Suns against Celtics after month-long absence

    Chris Paul is expected to play for the Phoenix Suns for the first time in a month when they take on the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

    Paul has been absent since November 7 after injuring his heel in the 100-88 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

    The Suns have gone 9-5 without Paul on the court and will head into the match-up with the Celtics in first place in the Western Conference.

    Paul's return comes as the Suns prepare to take on Boston, who are top of the Eastern Conference and boast the NBA's best record at 20-5.

    "I feel pretty good," Paul told reporters. "I'm going to see how I feel after this and go from there."

    Injury aside, 37-year-old Paul has had his struggles this season, averaging just 9.5 points-per-game and shooting at just 36.8 per cent, both career-lows.

  • NFL Fantasy Picks: Back Tua to bounce back in LA NFL Fantasy Picks: Back Tua to bounce back in LA

    It's crunch time in the fantasy football season.

    For many leagues, this is the final week of the regular-season campaign.

    By this point, the contenders have been firmly separated from the pretenders and, if you're lucky enough to be in the former category and still in the hunt for the playoffs, you need to nail your lineup every week.

    Stats Perform is here to offer a helping hand, with a look at four offensive players and a defense that are excellent bets for success in Week 14 of the NFL season.

    Quarterback: Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins @ Los Angeles Chargers

    It would be understandable to be somewhat deterred by Tagovailoa's four-turnover performance in the Dolphins' defeat to the San Francisco 49ers last week.

    But even in one of his worst performances of the season, Tagovailoa still threw two long touchdown passes and, on another day, several of the potential big plays he missed would have resulted in game-shifting completions.

    Having faced the NFL's top defense in Week 13, Tagovailoa gets a more favourable opponent in Week 14, with a Chargers defense allowing the eighth-most yards per play (6.59) in the league sure to present plenty of opportunities for him to bounce back.

    Running Back: Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens

    It's tough to trust the Steelers offense, but things are lining up well for Harris to excel in this AFC North rivalry game.

    Harris has at least 86 rushing yards in three of his last four games, which have seen him score three touchdowns.

    With Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson injured, a defensive struggle in which the Steelers can lean on the run game appears likely in Pittsburgh, potentially setting Harris up for his best game of the year, if he can shake off an oblique issue.

    Wide Receiver: Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Rams

    Adams has returned to his Green Bay Packers form as the Raiders have surged back to somewhere near playoff contention.

    Since Week 9, Adams leads the NFL in receiving yards per game (132.8) and receiving touchdowns (7).

    On Thursday, he faces a Rams defense that is a shadow of its 2021 self without Aaron Donald. Look for his hot streak to continue in primetime.

    Tight End: T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions

    How about a little tight end revenge game?! 

    Okay, so Hockenson might not have much against the Lions after they dealt him to a Vikings team destined for the playoffs, but he is in a great spot to do significant damage against his former employers.

    Hockenson has averaged eight targets per game since his Vikings debut in Week 9. Against a Lions defense allowing 402.2 total yards per game, that kind of target share could result in a huge day for the former first-round pick.

    Defense/Special Teams: Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos

    The Kansas City defense is vulnerable to the run and last week gave up 431 yards to the Cincinnati Bengals.

    But the Broncos' offense is not close to the standard of the Bengals and is averaging just 13.6 points per game. There is no concern for Kansas City's defense here.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.