I don’t know about you, but I’m still reliving and celebrating Ron Artest’s put back to win game 5. Not only was that Ron’s biggest single play in his short tenure with the Lakers, but it was a very meaningful basket for this team with ramifications beyond just a single victory. Sure, the basket only counted as two points and only won a single game. But if that basket doesn’t go in the Lakers would then have found themselves in an overtime period against a team that just came back from 18 points down in the second half; a team that would have been riding a wave of confidence and energy that would have been tough to overcome even for a team playing on its home court. What would have happened in that period is anyone’s guess, but if the Lakers lose that game they’d really be in a tough spot as they’d be facing an elimination game on the road against a great home team. So, needless to say, Ron’s basket was bigger than just a single made hoop.
And thinking about all of that made me feel fortunate. I mean, the Lakers again had things break their way when they easily could not have. And when reflecting on that, I realized that the Lakers have actually been quite fortunate these entire playoffs. As you’ll see below, this isn’t the first time that the Lakers have come out on top in a last second situation these playoffs. And in each one of those contests, the winning play was the result of a tip-in/put-back. So, without further ado, enjoy these clips from the Lakers last second wins from these playoffs:
We all remember game 6 of the OKC series, right? Imagine if this play doesn’t go the Lakers way. Suddenly the Lakers are tied with an upstart Thunder team with nothing to lose and heading back to LA for a game 7 where anything can happen. And sure the Lakers’ success at home would have made them heavy favorites, but I don’t even want to think about what could have been if things had played out that way. Thank goodness for Pau working through traffic to rebound Kobe’s miss.
And what about Wes Matthews missed tip in from game 3 of the Utah series? Based off how that series was playing out, I know few doubt the Lakers would have come out on top over the Jazz in round two. But also understand that the result of this game essentially broke the Jazz’s spirit. Had Utah won this game, the series is suddenly 2-1 in the Lakers favor, but the Jazz would have had a win under their belt and some confidence to build on for the future games. The difference between 2-1 and 3-0 is huge in a series and with this missed tip the Lakers again came out on top. I mean, we all see how the WCF turned when Phoenix got their first win. The media (and maybe righfully so) was burying the Jazz the same way they were burying Phoenix after two games. And look how the Lakers/Suns series has gone after game three. I think we should be extremely thankful this play went the Lakers’ way.
And then we have last night’s play from Ron. I’m sorry, I can’t help myself and I just have to post it again. When you look at the replay, look at where Ron is when Kobe elevates to take the shot and then where he ends up to execute the put back. That was pure hustle and desire on Artest’s part.
All great finishes and all in the Lakers favor. Like I said, I’m just grateful to Pau, Artest, and (sadly for him) Wesley Matthews. Hopefully, the Lakers don’t find themselves in too many more situations like this in the future where a last second play has to go their way. But if they do, I can only hope that they’re as fortunate as they have been so far these playoffs.