NBA

NBA: Suns win Game 2 as last-gasp dunk stuns Clippers

Deandre Ayton's last-second dunk saw the Phoenix Suns claim victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

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

The Phoenix Suns have taken a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals after Deandre Ayton's dunk with less than a second to go earned a dramatic 104-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

Ayton leads Suns to victory with 24-point haul

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

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. 

Payne steps up with 19 points for Phoenix

On a night that saw Booker make only five of 16 shots from the field and turn the ball over seven times - and endure a collision with Patrick Beverley that could force him to wear a protective mask going forward - 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

George unable to inspire Kawhi-less Clippers to win

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.