The Kings held a two-point lead and were on the verge of taking a 3-1 series lead when Kobe Bryant drove to the hoop the final seconds and… missed a running layup. Shaquille O’Neal collected the rebound and laid the ball back up toward the basket, but he missed too. The ball was knocked out to the top of the key to Horry, who quickly lined up the game-winner and fired as time expired. He nailed it, tying the series. The Lakers proceeded to win the series in seven games and then cruised by the Nets in the Finals. They say the best time to take a three is off an offensive rebound, after all.
Damon Stoudamire. Steve Smith. Scottie Pippen. Rasheed Wallace. Arvydas Sabonis. That was your starting five the last time the Trail Blazers won a playoff series. That was, until Damian Lillard nailed this three to give Rip City its first playoff series win since 2000. Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for over 45 points per game this series, and five of the six games were decided by seven points or fewer.
The Truth always seemed to come through in the clutch as a Celtic, and facing a tie in Game 3 of Boston’s first-round series with Miami in 2010, Pierce delivered once more. The Celtics had worked to overcome a 46-point masterpiece from Dwyane Wade, and the score stood locked at 98 coming down to the final possession. Then Pierce went to work, holding the ball at the top of the key and then unleashing his signature pull-up from beyond the elbow. The shot cleared the outstretched hand of Dorell Wright and found nothing but net as the buzzer sounded. The win gave the Celtics a commanding 3-0 lead over the Heat and they ultimately won the series in five games. Pierce didn’t even need the bank for this one.
This incredible finish came at the end of one of the ugliest games in recent memory. The Lakers shot 43.1% and made just six of their 13 free throws while the Spurs shot a brutal 38.2% but kept themselves in it with 13 offensive rebounds. Down 71-70, Kobe Bryant came around a Karl Malone (yes, he played for the Lakers) screen to knock down a 18 footer to put his team up one. Then came one of the toughest (and most forgotten) shots in NBA history: Tim Duncan dribbling left with Shaquille O’Neal in his grill before knocking down a ridiculous fall-away jumper from the top of the key. Duncan was only to be outdone, of course, by the shot we remember most: Derek Fisher’s catch-and-shoot fall-away bucket to give the Lakers a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals. The Lake Show closed out the Spurs the next game but lost to the Pistons in the Finals.
The Wizards had blown a 20-plus-point lead late in this one and were hanging on for dear life at home. Pierce came off a screen and banked it in from a few feet behind the elbow, fading away and falling to the ground as Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore and Kyle Korver all closed in. But the shot, which gave Washington a 2-1 series advantage and its last win in a series it would go on to lose 4-2, plays second fiddle to one of The Truth’s great declarations. When asked by Chris Broussard if he had called bank, Pierce had just three words: “I called game.”
May 14, 2004 - After 81% free throw shooter Jason Kidd missed a pair and Kerry Kittles made one of two, the Detroit Pistons faced a three point deficit with 2.9 seconds remaining and no time-outs in Game 5 of their second round matchup against the New Jersey Nets.
Then, Chauncey Billups gathered at half-court and unleashed a game-tying bomb at the buzzer, sending the contest to overtime. The Pistons and Nets would battle deep into the night, playing three overtimes before New Jersey emerged victorious.
The Pistons then took games 6 and 7, winning the series and ultimately racing to an NBA championship.
Before the Jazz ran into Jordan’s Bulls in the 1997 NBA Finals, they had to get through the Rockets. Visiting Houston in the sixth game of the series, John Stockton was dynamite, dishing out 13 assists and pouring in 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Stockton’s biggest shot of the game came in the final moments with score knotted at 100, when he cleanly lofted a three-pointer from deep as time expired. The shot flew through the net, Stockton’s teammates mobbed him at midcourt and Utah headed to the NBA Finals. Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich looked like he knew his team’s season was over when the shot left Stockton’s hand. The point guard posted 15 points in the fourth quarter of the series-clinching win.
May 7th, 1989 - ''The Shot (I)'' against Cleveland. series tied 2-2, decisive game in the series, Bulls trailing 99-100 with 3 seconds to go in the game, Michael Jordan hits a miracle game-winning shot to not just win the game, but advance his team to the next round of the playoffs. the Bulls eventually lost to the ''Bad Boys'' Detroit Pistons in the East Finals.