This day in Los Angeles Lakers history saw the game, the moment, many point to as the beginning of a dominant run in the 2000s.
While the new millennium saw the Lakers win five championships in 11 seasons, it began with a legendary performance against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.
Prior to the historic series, the Lakers needed all five games to defeat the Sacramento Kings and get out of the first round, but then took care of the Phoenix Suns easily in the second round.
That set up what amounted to a grueling seven-game series with the Trail Blazers, who were considered by many to reach the favorite to reach the NBA Finals. While the Lakers had a 3-1 series lead, the Trail Blazers won Games 5 and 6 to set up a deciding seventh game at Staples Center.
The Game 7 is iconic in Lakers lore because of the remarkable comeback that took place in the fourth quarter. The Trail Blazers had been in control for a majority of the game, and after three quarters, led 71-58.
Shaquille O’Neal had oddly disappeared in the first three quarters, entering the final 12 minutes with just 9 points on 2-for-6 shooting.
With just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Trail Blazers led 75-60, and Lakers history would forever be changed with their performance for the rest of the way.
Over the next seven minutes, the Lakers went go on a 15-0 run to tie the game at 75, eventually taking the lead at 79-77. The game was essentially iced by one of the most famous plays in Lakers history, a lob from Kobe Bryant to O’Neal to give the Lakers a six-point lead with just over 40 seconds left.
L.A. finished the game on a 29-9 run, winning 89-84, putting the Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals with one of the greatest games in franchise history.
The Lakers would go on to defeat the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals, setting them up with the first of three consecutive championships.
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