After stealing homecourt advantage from the New York Knicks in the 1970 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers returned home for Games 3 and 4.
Despite Jerry West’s 60-foot buzzer-beater in Game 3 which only counted for two points at the time, the Lakers fell short in overtime and were on the brink of a 3-1 series deficit. In pivotal Game 4, it was another highly-contested matchup as there was only a 5.7-point differential through the first three games.
While the Lakers outscored their opponent by 10 points in the second quarter and led by seven points at halftime, the Knicks stormed back and forced a second consecutive overtime. As the Lakers outscored the Knicks 22-16 in overtime and tied the series at two games apiece, it marked the highest scoring output in league playoff history.
While Dave DeBusschere, Dick Barnett, and Willis Reed all scored at least 20 points and Walt Frazier chipped in 16 points and 11 assists, New York could not contain Los Angeles’ big three.
Jerry West led the way and finished with 37 points, five rebounds, and 17 assists, but received plenty of help. Wilt Chamberlain nearly had a triple-double (18 points, 25 rebounds, and seven assists) as Elgin Baylor finished with a double-double (30 points and 13 rebounds).
With the 1970 NBA Finals eventually going seven games, the Lakers could not win their first championship since moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, which would have ended the team’s 14-year drought.
Considered one of the greatest moments in league history, Reed played in Game 7 despite suffering a severe thigh injury in Game 5 and a torn muscle in Game 6. In 27 minutes, the Knicks center finished with just four points and three rebounds, but his presence on the court propelled New York to their very first championship.
Fortunately for the Lakers, they would get their revenge on the Knicks in the 1972 NBA Finals as West, Chamberlain, and Gail Goodrich defeated them in five games.
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