When in doubt, throw the ball up to Deandre Ayton.
The Phoenix Suns were trailing 103-102 with 0.9 seconds left in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals and deployed that strategy to perfection to steal a win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Like something we saw many times out of Arizona’s playbook, Ayton came around a screen, leaped to catch a baseline out of bounds pass over the rim, and threw it down over a Clipper defender for the game-winning basket in the 104-103 victory. The play is being dubbed the “Valley Oop.”
The Clippers argued for goaltending but, as ESPN analyst Mark Jackson pointed out, there is no goaltending on an inbounds pass.
DEANDRE AYTON GAME-WINNING OOP— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 23, 2021
SUNS UP 2-0 pic.twitter.com/QJGhUUhxAF
The dunk capped a wonderful night for Ayton, who finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds on 12-of-15 shooting. It was his sixth time scoring 20 or more points in these playoffs. He is shooting over 70 percent.
The Suns, who were missing Chris Paul due to COVID-19 protocols, have won nine postgame games in a row and now hold a 2-0 series lead on the Clippers, needing two more victories to reach the NBA Finals.
Game 3 is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. PT on ESPN.
Deandre Ayton is the first player in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55 season) with a 70+ FG pct in any 12-game postseason span (min. 100 att).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 23, 2021
H/T @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/7jdMh8a9NO