Ron Artest Tips in Winner, Series For Lakers

Ron Artest Tips in Winner, Series For Lakers

Ron Artest has had a bad year with Los Angeles. But his Game 5 tip-in at the buzzer of the Western Conference Finals may have punched LA’s ticket to the Finals.

Ron-Ron, as he is known in NBA circles, has not had the incredible impact that was expected when he arrived in LA from Houston in a trade that sent the playoff-peaking Trevor Ariza to the Rockets. Long praised as a defensive stopper, Artest no longer strikes fear in opponents. Though his play against Kevin Durant helped LA conquer the Oklahoma City Thunder, Artest has done very little on the offensive again.

In Thurday’s Game 5 at the Staples Center, Los Angeles was cruising against an out-of-sorts Phoenix team. Shooting poorly and with an uncharacteristically low number of assists, Phoenix was unable to get any flow going. Not so for the LA Lakers. Led by Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom, they were finding holes in the new Alvin Gentry zone and when not exploiting the middle, hitting thorough threes.

But the second half saw the Phoenix Suns rebound and literally shoot themselves back into the contest. Though dismal in the first half from the three point line, Channing Frye got hot and the rest of the team followed. With LA leading by three, Ron-Ron launched an ill-advised three and missed badly, allowing Phoenix to rebound and tie on a Jason Richardson banked-in three. With 3.5 seconds remaining, and the game now tied, Phil Jackson smartly called a play for Kobe Bryant to set afloat the “winning” shot. Bryant missed.

But Ron Artest crashed the boards and tipped in the miss as time expired for an amazing LA Lakers victory. A victory that gives them a 3-2 series advantage and a likely trip back to the NBA Finals to defend their title. From Goat to Glory in 3.5 seconds. That’s the NBA. And Ron Artest is now savoring his moment in the hot LA sun.

For the Phoenix Suns, it’s a heartbreaking loss, but one to take build confidence if they need to win at Staples in the deciding Game 7.

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