Deandre Ayton's dunk with less than one second to play gave the Phoenix Suns a stunning 104-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
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 Tuesday.
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.
EVERY ANGLE of Jae Crowder's pinpoint pass to Deandre Ayton to win Game 2 for the @Suns! #NBAPlayoffs #ThatsGame #NBAWCF presented by AT&T continues with Game 3 on Thursday at 9pm/et on ESPN pic.twitter.com/JMEXIj0erK— NBA (@NBA) June 23, 2021
On a night that saw Booker make only five of 16 shots from the field and turn the ball over seven times, 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.
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.