Deandre Ayton came through at the perfect time on Tuesd ay night to lift the Phoenix Suns to a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Ayton, with just 0.9 seconds left on the clock, expertly tipped in an inbounds pass from Jae Crowder to lift the Suns to a 104-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ayton saves Clippers after tight Game 2 battle
After a close battle throughout the first half, the Suns took the largest lead of the game in the third quarter — a brief nine-point advantage they secured after holding the Clippers scoreless for more than three minutes. That lead was short-lived, though, as the Clippers cut it to just four points by the end of the period.
Devin Booker and Clippers guard Patrick Beverley both had to leave the game . The collision sent Booker to the ground bleeding from his nose.
Both Booker and Beverley — who was just called for a common foul on the play — returned to the court for the fourth quarter, though Booker needed stitches in the locker room.
With just more than a minute left while the Suns held a three point lead, Booker was called for an offensive foul after Beverley was hit on a drive and went down — which prompted a lengthy review.
Booker then got called for a foul on the other end, which sent the Clippers to the free throw line and allowed them to cut the game to just a single point. Payne then drove to the rim for a layup but was stopped in his tracks by Ivica Zubac, prompting a Paul George layup to give the Clippers their first lead of the period with just 30 seconds left.
Booker, though, hit a mid-range jumper from the top of the key off an inbounds play to retake the lead for the Suns — which Paul George then matched almost perfectly on the other end.
The Clippers stopped Booker and reclaimed the ball after a review determined that Booker had sent the ball out of bounds, and eventually sent George to the free throw line. He missed both shots, though, which set the Suns up with one last chance.
That’s when the Suns set up Ayton perfectly above the rim to complete the play over Ivica Zubac to give them the one-point win.
George led the Clippers with 26 points, six assists and six rebounds. Reggie Jackson added 19 points, and Zubac finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Cameron Payne filled in for Chris Paul without missing a beat on Tuesday night, and dropped a career-high 29 points and nine assists while the future Hall of Famer is still sidelined due to COVID-19 health and safety protocol. Ayton finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds while missing just three shots from the field, and Booker finished with 20 points.
This post will be updated with more information shortly.
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