After losing Game 7 of the 1984 NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers returned for the 1984-85 NBA season looking for redemption. As they finished with the best record (62-20) in the Western Conference, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and company went on a dominating playoff run.
Through the first round against the Phoenix Suns (36-46) and the conference semifinals against the Portland Trail Blazers (42-40), Los Angeles won by an average margin of 18.8 points en route to their conference finals matchup against the Denver Nuggets (52-30).
In Game 1, it appeared the Lakers were on an easy path to a fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance after defeating the Nuggets, 139-122. However, they were stunned in Game 2 at The Forum and lost homecourt advantage as they traveled to the McNichols Sports Arena for Games 3 and 4.
Although the Lakers were able to take a commanding 3-1 series lead following a narrow 120-116 win in Denver, they wanted to send a message to the Celtics, who were facing the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
With both teams looking to close out their series on May 22, 1985, the Lakers delivered.
After a competitive first quarter, the Lakers outscored the Nuggets by 23 points in the second quarter, which eventually resulted in a dominating 153-109 win. Led by Magic Johnson’s 17 points and 19 assists and James Worthy’s 25 points, Los Angeles held Denver to 38.5 percent shooting from the field and forced 21 turnovers.
As the Celtics closed out their series against the Sixers, it set up another chapter in the greatest rivalry in all of sports.
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