Horry, Fisher, Kobe ... The Lakers, on the horn in the playoffs

With Anthony Davis, the Lakers have had as many as five baskets on the horn in the 21st century. And some of them have ended in a ring ...


On the horn. That is where we witness the true magic that the NBA hides. The most incredible and exciting moments in basketball are lived in those tight finals in which a star or a luxury guest brings out in an unexpected and deserved way a flash of talent, wisdom and luck that decides games and even championships. Throughout history, those famous buzzer beaters have been the bread and butter of the best league in the world, which has fed them to satiety creating a narrative only comparable to those incredible launches that left the fan with their mouths open and to the rival with the lowered look. That's where some of the most iconic plays of all time have been made, like Kawhi Leonard's winning shot to eliminate the Sixers that allowed the Raptors to advance in what would be the first ring in their history. Or, more recently, that triple by Luka Doncic in Clippers that made life difficult for some Clippers who have moved on the wire and have ended up saying goodbye prematurely.

There are many such baskets throughout history, as well as for a team without which it would be impossible to understand the North American competition: Los Angeles Lakers. Anthony Davis sentenced the Nuggets with a triple that left the tie 2-0 and Mike Malone's with three noses. Defeated when they had done the most difficult, traced a meeting that seemed impossible and reach the last second with an advantage on the scoreboard. And all to see how a franchise whose tradition that surpasses the limits of the League itself honored its inherent immortality and survived a game that they should have lost and deserved to lose. But what, of course, they have won. Showing off that magic that they have always had and that seems to multiply in the Disney complex, in which really surprising things are seen and moments that will remain in the fan's retina within a year that, in itself, nobody will forget.

How could it be otherwise, the Lakers have had more moments like today throughout their existence. For the memory is that sky hook of Magic Johnson in the fourth game of the 1987 Finals, when he scored with two seconds left, giving his team a victory in the final key to win the ring (4-2). However, this time we are going to talk about the Lakers' 21st century games that were decided just when the horn sounded, without giving the opponent time for anything else. In fact, before the 2000s, only Elgin Baylor and Jerry West had made these kinds of plays for the Hollywood franchise. West, with a shot from field to field against the Knicks in 1970, although the clash ended in defeat. Next, we are going to talk about the last five baskets that the purple and gold franchise has scored when the basket square turned red and the heart rate increased uncontrollably. And with names that are historical for the entity and that, up to two of those five occasions, they gave rings to the Angelenos.

Robert Horry (Game 4 of the Western Finals, 2002)

He is the quintessential man on this list and one of the greatest examples in history who has been in the right place and time. Seven rings in total, the most in the modern NBA above Michael Jordan (6) and only below those Bill Russell Celtics, back in the prehistory of the League. Two with the Rockets, three with the Lakers and two more with the Spurs in some movements in the market, measured and strategic, that always allowed him to opt for the ring. Mind you, Horry has been essential in the playoffs on numerous occasions. He was one of those players convinced that he had to justify his contract right now. If he was key in the seventh of 2000 against the Blazers and in the third game of the 2001 Finals against the Sixers, his key moment was in 2002. The Lakers fell 40-20 in the first period of the fourth game of the tie, and they came back to have the ball and force extra time thus avoiding a 3-1 road to Sacramento (the Kings were their rivals) that would have practically sentenced the tie. With 97-99 on the scoreboard and after a Phil Jackson time-out, Kobe missed a layup, O'Neal couldn't finish off the rebound and visiting center Vlade Divac tapped the ball away from the basket. There was Horry, in the front of the line of three, to score a triple over the horn that rescued the Lakers from an ignominious situation and tied the tie. The Staples, always so calm, exploded. "It was luck," Divac said afterward. "I should read the newspapers, it's not the first time I've done that," Horry replied. The Lakers won the series, one of the best in history, in the seventh with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists from Horry and put the three peat on the way and the confirmation of their dynasty. And the power forward, already with the Spurs, still had time to do another of his in the 2005 Finals against the Pistons ... although that's another story. Incredible about the seven-time champion, who barely averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds in a professional career in which he was the protagonist many times. That year, by the way, the Lakers ended up taking the series ... and the ring, of course.

Derek Fisher (fifth game of the Western semi-finals, 2004)

Another classic of that select group of unexpected heroes who has also had moments of glory in the playoffs and has resolved on the horn. The 15 points per game in the 2001 playoffs are a great example of how he transformed into a key man in the finals, in addition to that 2 + 1 in the third game of the 2010 Finals against the Celtics, one after conceding the 8 triples from a Ray Allen he defended and a match in which at the conclusion and as revealed by Phil Jackson, he could not hold back his tears. He was also essential in Game 4 of 2009 against the Magic. There, Fisher first forced extra time with an unappealable triple against Jameer Nelson and then sentenced with another after receiving a pass from a Kobe who could well have fouled Nelson himself. However, the shot over the horn that demonstrated the iconic character of this player took place against the Spurs, in an ugly and rough game in which there were few points and it seemed that a jump shot by Tim Duncan with Shaquille on top left everything seen for judgment. The 3-2 was 0.4 hundredths behind the Texans, and Gary Payton, who had arrived with Karl Malone that year in Los Angeles, had to call a timeout when he could not find a partner. "Whoever you see alone, you pass it," Phil Jackson told him, seeing that there were up to three men chasing Kobe, the man par excellence for those types of pitches. The ball then reached Fisher, who resolved in time. Something spectacular that allowed the Lakers to go ahead in the tie and settle at the Staples, heading to their fourth Finals in five years after finishing Garnett's Wolves in the Western Finals. Of course, they lost the ring to, you know, the Pistons.

Kobe Bryant (fourth game of the first round of the West, 2006)

One of the most famous winners in the playoffs in NBA history. And one of the most visited on YouTube. The Lakers had achieved a 2-1 lead in the first round of the West in an absolutely unexpected way, starting as seventh and facing the Suns of Seven Seconds or Less, the second of the West. A victory in Game 4 could give an almost definitive 3-1 lead, but the Lakers were behind in the light. Phoenix looked for Nash to close the game from the staff, but Smush Parker stole the ball, Devean George enabled Kobe and he resolved against a table forcing overtime. And the best was yet to come: in overtime, Luke Walton (time has passed, yes) caused a jump between two with Nash himself, and the ball went to Kobe with a few seconds to go. The guard, defended by Raja Bell throughout a game in which he had foul problems, scored on the horn causing one of the biggest explosions of jubilation that Staples has experienced. The Lakers went 3-1 in the series, but fell in the next three games even though they were really close in the sixth, resolved in overtime in favor of the Suns who could with Kobe's 50 points. It was the end of 2005-06 for Los Angeles. Yes, that of Kobe's 35.4 average points, 62 in three quarters against the Mavericks (who were Finalists, by the way) or 81 points in a game. A historic season that ended earlier than the Black Mamba expected.

Ron Artest (Game 5 of the Western Finals, 2010)

Another unexpected lead and another shot over the horn. Although, unlike the other three, in this one the Lakers were not behind on the scoreboard. Again with the Suns as rivals, this time the Angelenos were the favorites to qualify for their third Finals in a row. The series had started 2-0 for them, but Nash and company made the tables in Arizona and a triple by Jason Richardson set the tables with 3.5 seconds to go. Artest then emerged from the timeout, picking up the offensive rebound from Kobe's whimsical shot and winning the game for the Lakers. In addition, he sentenced the Suns in the sixth game of the West finals with 25 points and 4 of 7 in triples and accompanied by the 33.7 + 7.2 + 8.3 of a superhuman Kobe in the series. And, even better, he scored a triple in Game 7 of the Finals against the Celtics that gave the Lakers the sixteenth and so far the last ring in their history.Anthony Davis (second game of the 2020 West Finals)

The last great feat. The Lakers have had to wait a decade to resolve a game again with a basket on the horn, but they have done it with power forward. It is also true that since 2010, the Lakers have not been real championship candidates and have been absent from the playoffs for six years in a row. Davis joins a select group that includes just six players (counting West and Baylor) and is one of five to have scored a triple winner over the horn in a conference finals. The previous one was LeBron in 2009 and in 2002 the aforementioned Horry did. The power forward scored the last 10 points for the Angelenos and made it 2-0. The Nuggets scored 16 points but were hit in the final second. Again, on the horn. And with a basket for the history of the Lakers. One more.

Photos from as.com
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