May 28, 2010 12:15 AM
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The L.A. Lakers acquired Ron Artest for his rebounding and hard-nosed defense. Last-second offensive heroics were hardly his strong suit.
Until Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Thursday night.
Artest beat the buzzer with a wild bank shot after rebounding Kobe Bryant's air ball to give the Lakers a 103-101 win over the Phoenix Suns, and a 3-2 series lead.
Bryant had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers. But Artest was the improbable hero with just his second basket of the night.
Jason Richardson banked in a straightaway 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left to tie it for the Suns, who rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half. Steve Nash led the Suns with 29.
Bryant missed a difficult shot from the corner, but Artest rolled into the lane, collected the rebound and threw up a hideous shot that somehow went in. Derek Fisher added 22 points and Pau Gasol had 21 points and nine boards.
Game 6 is Saturday night in Phoenix, where the Lakers can clinch the chance to play for their 16th championship. The home team has won every game in this series.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)