Indiana Pacers forward Lance Stephenson narrowly avoided a career-threatening injury Tuesday night in Atlanta, and he came through with one of the NBA’s shots of the year in the process.
Stephenson, known for playing at a frenetic pace, attempted to go coast-to-coast for a layup during the third quarter against the Atlanta Hawks. After sprinting into the paint, he tried to split two Hawks defenders while leaping toward the rim. Neither defender seemed to initiate much contact, but Stephenson somehow lost his balance in midair, flipped over backward and landed hard on his upper back. A few more inches of rotation, and the Pacers would have had a very scary situation on their hands.
But, incredibly, Stephenson’s ridiculous shot — which he threw straight up in the air after beginning his flip — went in, and Indiana went on to win 89-85.
Stephenson left the game with a sore back after making his free throw, but Pacers forward David West said after the game that his teammate will be OK.
“He’s all right,” West said, via 1070TheFan.com. “He’s a tough cat. He’ll bounce back.”
Check out the play in the video below.