The magnitude of the moment seemed to sink in at once for Anthony Davis, whose heroics in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday gained him entrance into a special chapter within the Lakers organization, an exclusive sect for only those who’ve made game-winning buzzer-beaters in the playoffs.
“I want to take those shots,” Davis said during his on-court TNT interview moments after his arcing 3-pointer over Denver’s Nikola Jokic gave L.A. a 103-102 victory and made him just the seventh Laker to hit a postseason shot at the buzzer.
“It’s part of the legacy; I want those shots.”
So too did the other memorable Lakers in the team’s Playoffs Buzzer-Beater Club, which features Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, and now Davis.
West — known as “Mr. Clutch” for good reason — founded the group on April 10, 1962, in Game 3 of the NBA Finals series against Boston. That game ended when West stole an inbound pass and raced downcourt and converted a layin for a 117-115 victory. West’s play gave the Lakers a 2-1 series lead, but they eventually lost in seven games.
4⃣4️⃣ days from #KiaTipOff19…
Relive Jerry West’s steal and game-winning layup at the buzzer in Game 3 of the 1962 #NBAFinals! #NBABreakdown pic.twitter.com/8Ao9U2K5qh
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) September 8, 2019
He had his second postseason buzzer-beater the next season, when on April 2, 1963, in a 101-99 victory in Game 2 of the Western Division Finals against the St. Louis Hawks, he again stole the ball and then sank a 20-foot set shot. The Lakers lost the next two games but wound up winning the series in seven before losing to Boston in the NBA Finals.
The streak of Lakers’ late-season buzzer-beaters continued the next season, when, on March 25, 1964, Baylor’s dramatic 20-footer with one second left gave the Lakers a 107-105 victory over St. Louis in Game 3 of the Western Division Finals. The Lakers won the next game to stave off elimination before losing the best-of-five series.
In an Instagram post on Monday, Baylor buzzed Davis into the club with a congratulatory note — and a bit of advice for the rest of the Denver series.
Davis’ shot, Baylor wrote on Instagram, “earned him his salary!” He added: “The @nuggets are not going to roll over. Lakers have a better team and have to remember to not let an opponent get their confidence up when you have them down.”
When game-winners rain, they pour — but after three buzzer-beaters in three postseasons, the Lakers went without one until May 26, 2002. That’s when a batted ball found Horry — aka “Big Shot Bob” — behind the 3-point line for the game-winner over Sacramento’s on-rushing Chris Webber to win Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, 100-99.
May 26, 2002: Western Conference Finals. Game 4 vs. Sacramento Kings. Robert Horry wins it at the buzzer.
Legendary Moments in Lakers History, Presented by @Budweiserusa pic.twitter.com/pJFjQpDteB
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 24, 2018
The Lakers won that series in seven games and went on to sweep New Jersey to claim their 14th of 16th championships.
Eighteen years later, the shot still stings in Sacramento. On Sunday evening, the Kings’ social media team reacted to Davis’ theatrics by posting a tweet commiserating with the Denver Nuggets: “Hurts, doesn’t it.”
Responded the Nuggets, on Twitter: “Yes. Yes it does.”
Yes. Yes it does
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) September 21, 2020
On May 14, 2004, Fisher’s 0.4 shot — and sprint off the court, in almost as little time — in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals surely irked the Spurs. San Antonio filed a protest after the Lakers’ 73-72 victory, contending the clock did not start quickly enough.
But the league denied the appeal and Fisher’s make — which came on the heels of a woulda-been game-winning fadeaway by Tim Duncan over Shaquille O’Neal — stood. That gave the Lakers a 3-2 lead in the series they’d eventually win en route to an appearance in the Finals, where they were swept by Detroit.
16 years ago today: Derek Fisher called game in 0.4 seconds. #BestOfLakersSpurs pic.twitter.com/hweWgAEjWP
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 13, 2020
On Sunday night, Davis yelled “Ko-be” after his game-winner, paying homage to the five-time NBA champion who died in January when the helicopter on which he was a passenger crashed.
Bryant is in the Buzzer-Beaters Club, of course, for his overtime jumper in 2006 in the Western Conference first-round series against the Phoenix Suns. Though the Lakers lost that series, the hero of the 99-98 Game 4 victory remembered the moment fondly years later, describing it for the NBA’s Ahmad Rashad as “an eruption of emotions.”
Can’t forget when Kobe hit this epic OT buzzer-beater! 😤
Suns vs. Lakers, 2006 Western Conference 1st Round Game 4 – 3pm ET on NBA TV! pic.twitter.com/KrYVHDm7zK
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 23, 2020
Until Sunday, the last Lakers’ postseason buzzer-beater came on May 27, 2010, on a put-back by Metta World Peace (then Ron Artest), who collected Bryant’s airball and flipped it up and in for the win, giving the Lakers the 3-2 series lead — a key moment on their way to beating Boston in seven games for the franchise’s most recent championship, before an unprecedented six-year playoff drought.
World Peace was watching when Davis’ shot went down, giving the 2020 Lakers a boost in their pursuit of the franchise’s 17th title. He let fly a few tweets at the game’s conclusion, including one that summed up this latest, lasting moment winningly: “AD. Wow.”
— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorld37) September 21, 2020
Only seven players in Lakers history have hit a game-winning playoff buzzer-beater:
– Jerry West
– Elgin Baylor
– Robert Horry
– Derek Fisher
– Kobe Bryant
– Metta World Peace
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 21, 2020
Only one thing to say after hitting a Mamba shot: “KOBE” pic.twitter.com/6K18dAz2ni
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 21, 2020