26. Ron Artest’s bank-shot buzzer-beater versus Phoenix Suns: 2010 Western Conference Finals, Game 5
The basketball artist formerly known as Ron Artest is a player unlike any before him. Not only did he change his name mid-career to Metta World Peace, but he was the primary figure in The Malice at The Palace for the Indiana Pacers and a shot-making legend for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Two of Artest/Peace’s most unforgettable basketball moments happened in the same 2010 NBA Playoffs. He would nail the NBA Finals clinched over the Boston Celtics in Game 7, but his putback against the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals was his greatest second on the hardwood.
Los Angeles had dropped two in a row in Phoenix and was on the precipice of dropping a third game in a row to go down 3-2 to the Suns before Game 6 on the road. Up 101-98 on the Suns, Artest would miss a terrible three-pointer in the final minute, allowing Phoenix to tie it up on a slick Jason Richardson three with 3.5 seconds left in the game.
Lakers forward Lamar Odom would in-bound the ball to set up Kobe Bryant game-winning shot. Bryant heaved up a prayer on a highly contested fadeaway three. Artest was in the right place at the right time to totally redeem himself with the most clutch putback of all-time.
The Lakers would win 105-103 at home to go up 3-2 on the Suns. Los Angeles would defeat the Suns in Phoenix to reach the NBA Finals. If not for Artest’s great positioning under the basket, maybe Phoenix or Boston win that NBA Finals?