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Artest beats buzzer

LOS ANGELES — Phil Jackson said it with a wry smile, like he does a lot of things, so it was impossible to know if the Lakers coach was kidding before Game 5 of the Western Conference finals when he said he was "very nervous" and "quite worried."

It turned out there was plenty to fret. Except the ending.

Ron Artest cut across the lane to grab an errant Kobe Bryant 3-pointer and tossed it in as time expired to give the Lakers an exhilarating 103-101 victory over the Suns on Thursday at the Staples Center.

Artest finished with only four points for the Lakers, who have a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series that shifts back to US Airways Center in Phoenix on Saturday.

The Suns' Jason Richardson had tied the score at 101 with 3.5 seconds left when he banked in a 3-point basket after Steve Nash and Richardson missed 3-point attempts on the same possession. Nash finished with 29 points.

The Suns' zone couldn't contain Bryant (30 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists) or Derek Fisher, who finished with 22 points.

Perkins cleared: The Celtics' Kendrick Perkins will eligible to play in Game 6 of the East finals Friday against the Magic. The NBA said Thursday one of the two technical fouls Perkins received in Game 5 was rescinded.

bbolch@tribune.com

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