Check out our feature articles on the spectacular moments in Laker franchise history, written especially for LakerStats.com by Lakers Dynasty 2000 (LD2k).
An Epic Comeback By: Chris Manning (LD2k)
Los Angeles Lakers 89, Portland Trail Blazers 84
June 4, 2000
In sports, great moments and great victories normally go hand in hand. Sometimes though, even those special victories exceed the moment itself. On one special afternoon, the 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers found themselves contending for the conference championship in a historic Game 7 against the Portland Trail Blazers. To this day, many canít figure out if the Lakers won as much as they escaped.
The Lakers were on the brink of one of the greatest collapses in NBA playoff history. The third quarter was controlled by Portland, as they started building an impressive lead which eventually exploded to 16 early in the fourth quarter. At this point many wondered if the Lakers were really the team that cruised the league's best record at 67-15. But, as they had done so many times during the season, the Lakers dug down deep to find their heart as they started to climb back into the game.
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille OíNeal took over as they started chipping away at what seemed at the time like an insurmountable Blazer lead. Clutch three-pointers from Robert Horry and Brian Shaw re-energized the team in the middle of the quarter, as they closed within double figures.
Still rallying, the ball found itself in the familiar hot hands of Brian Shaw again. Shaw didn't disappoint as he drilled a three-pointer from the top of the arc to erase the huge deficit and tie up the game at 75, with about 3:50 left to play. After that, the Lakers had all the momentum and took over the game.
Portland mired in a dry spell, remained scoreless for over half of the deciding quarter. As the tables turned, the Lakers continued to pummel the Blazers, making clutch shot after clutch shot. What would happen next would not only assure victory for the Lakers, but bring the Staples Center crowd to a frenzy.
With about 40 seconds remaining, Kobe Bryant drove the lane, drew three defenders, and lobbed a ball high into the heavens, tall enough for only Shaq to catch and throw down through the hoop. The Alley-oop set off the lionís den known as Staples Center, as the sold-out crowd seemingly jumped through the roof with excitement.
The Lakers then sealed the game with clutch free throws by Robert Horry, achieving one of the greatest comebacks in playoff history. Being down by as many as 16 in the fourth quarter, rallying back and defeating an equally talented team, put this moment in the history books forever.
Phil Jackson remembers, ďGame 7ís are very interesting, but Iíve never seen any quite like that one before.Ē Phil Jackson was not only victorious in many playoff games before, but he added another exciting victory to his resume that day.
The Lakers sent a strong statement to the rest of the league that day. In just over 10 minutes they erased a huge deficit for an improbable win, a characteristic that would mark the team's three straight titles. It wasnít necessarily that they had won that day, but it was how they did it.