Check out our feature articles on the spectacular moments in Laker franchise history, written especially for LakerStats.com by Lakers Dynasty 2000 (LD2k).
A Hollywood Ending By: Chris Manning (LD2k)
Los Angeles Lakers 100, Sacramento Kings 99
May 26, 2002
When defending champions find themselves down in a playoff series, many people start to question their ability to overcome the adversity. There comes a time in every series when every rebound, pass, and of course, every shot matters.
On one special afternoon when the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves down, they knew that the heart of a champion was beating in them. They knew that they had one shot to make history, and they did just that.
It was May 26, 2002 when Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals was not only played, but would mark its moment in Lakers history forever. The Kings led the series (2-1) and they came out playing seemingly unstoppable. At one point in the game, they led the Lakers by 24 points. The Lakers squad then started a ferocious comeback, little-by-little, shot-by-shot.
As the Lakers continued to rally from the deficit, time continued to tick away and every moment was valuable. Clutch jumpers from Kobe Bryant helped. Role players like Robert Horry, Rick Fox, and Brian Shaw chipped in as well by hitting the baskets needed to creep back into the game.
As the lead grew thinner, the Lakers hadn't come quite far enough as the Kings still led 99-97. However, the Lakers found themselves in a position to make one final attempt and make history by overcoming the 24-point deficit. With 11.8 seconds left, the Lakers took a timeout, and looked to inbound the ball.
As the ball was given to Kobe, he drove forcefully towards the basket and threw up a floater which came long off the rim. Shaquille O'Neal grabbed the rebound and attempted to quickly flip a shot up, unaware of the time.
As the ball came up short, Vlade Divac strategically tipped the ball out towards half court not realizing that Horry was standing at the top of the three point line. As the ball made its bounce towards half court, Horry reached the ball, set his kickstand, and shot a buzzer-beating three-pointer high into the air over Chris Webber.
As the ball floated, everyone glanced and froze as seconds seemingly turned to minutes. The buzzer then sounded throughout the silent arena as the ball fell straight through the net.
Horry celebrated by skipping back towards his teammates as they rushed and surrounded him with disbelief and excitement. Staples Center erupted in chants of “Horry! Horry! Horry!” and fans worshipped Robert Horry that night, and still do to this day. Re-defining the term “clutch,” “Big Shot Rob” forever shot his way into Lakers history that night.