Check out our feature articles on the spectacular moments in Laker franchise history, written especially for LakerStats.com by Lakers Dynasty 2000 (LD2k).
A True Dogfight By: Chris Manning (LD2k)
Los Angeles Lakers 112, Sacramento Kings 106 (OT)
June 2, 2002
Dynasties in sports rarely go unnoticed, and games that are not only won, but earned, help teams put their stamp on history. On June 2, 2002, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves in another Game 7, the same Game 7 they found themselves in just two years prior against the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. Just like their previous Game 7, this contest was not only won, but earned in every way by the Lakers, and proved who the real “Kings of the NBA“ were at the time.
The rivalry in this series seemed to grow exponentially as the two teams battled game after game. In some instances, each team only gained victory by a breathtaking buzzer-beater, while other wins were marked by resounding victory. But, there is always an end to every epic struggle, and this series came down to one game for the Western Conference title, and a trip to the NBA Finals.
Game 7 was played very tightly the whole way through. Stellar performances by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal reassured everyone that the Lakers were not going to lose. Support from Rick Fox, Derek Fisher, and Robert Horry showed that every ounce of what the Lakers had in them was needed to pull out the victory.
As the game drew closer and closer to an end, Kings' guard Mike Bibby knocked down just about everything he put up, and helped his team climb back closer to the Lakers, who held a slim lead with just minutes left. Thanks to Bibby's hot shooting, the Kings eventually would tie the game at 100. With only seconds left in regulation, the Lakers found themselves in a position to win the game with a last-second shot. As their attempts failed, the Kings and sold-out Arco Arena were relieved to see that they would have one more chance to “Beat L.A.,” as the game was headed to overtime tied at 100.
In overtime, the Kings came out strong, scoring the first overtime points. As time ticked away, Shaquille O’Neal tied the game at 106 with a baseline jumper. Then O’Neal added a clutch pair of free throws just 27 seconds later which virtually sealed the victory.
The Kings came down and missed their next three shot attempts, and committed two turnovers that eventually gave the Lakers the 112-106 victory. The Lakers had now officially put a stamp on their season and their dynasty, outlasting the Kings, and then walking through New Jersey to win the championship two weeks later.
Shaquille O’Neal remembers back, “They played us well all season, they played us well during the series, they thought it was their time, but it wasn’t.” That year the true “Kings of the NBA” emerged from that epic series, and rightfully so. The 2002 Lakers became the first team in over 20 years to win a deciding game on the road in both the Conference Finals and the NBA Finals.