The Los Angeles Lakers have a long history of outstanding buzzer-beaters, especially in the playoffs. Be it Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Jerry West or even beloved role players such as Robert Horry and Derek Fisher, this franchise has lived for clutch moments in the playoffs.
On Sept. 20, 2020, Anthony Davis added his own highlight to that reel.
The 2020 playoffs took place inside the bubble in Orlando, Florida, and the Lakers were rolling, having dispatched both Portland and Houston in five games. The Western Conference Finals saw them unexpectedly face off with the Denver Nuggets, who had survived back-to-back 3-1 deficits, including defeating the heavily favored Los Angeles Clippers in the second round to get to this point.
The Lakers got themselves an easy win in Game 1 and seemed to be on their way to another in Game 2, pulling ahead by as many as 16 points in the second half and led by eight with just three minutes remaining after a Davis 3-pointer. But Nikola Jokic took over, scoring nine straight points to put Denver ahead by one with 30 seconds left.
Davis finally ended that run with a mid-range jumper, but Jokic answered right back with a short hook of his own, putting the Lakers back down by a point. Alex Caruso had a chance to be the hero but would miss a three and a Danny Green putback was blocked out of bounds by Jamal Murray with just two seconds remaining. Head coach Frank Vogel would then make an extremely smart decision, subbing in Rajon Rondo to inbound the ball as the Lakers had no timeouts remaining.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 20, 2021
Davis would start on the opposite elbow and bounce out to the 3-point line and a miscommunication between Denver defenders Mason Plumlee and Jerami Grant gave him all the space he needed. Davis rose up, fired and knocked down the three to give the Lakers the win and a 2-0 series lead.
What made this moment even more special was the fact that the Lakers were wearing their Mamba edition jerseys, designed by Kobe Bryant himself. Kobe’s tragic passing was a motivation factor for the team all season long and Davis even capped the jumper by saying ‘Kobe’ as he jumped to celebrate with his team.
People everywhere imagine themselves hitting game-winners and practicing by throwing trash in the bin and saying ‘Kobe’ as they do it. Davis was able to do that on the biggest stage possible, saving the Lakers from an unacceptable loss and ultimately keeping them on the path to the 2020 NBA Championship.
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