When it comes to the greatest teams in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers have multiple entries into the discussion. The 1972 team still holds the record for longest winning streak while the 1985 and ’87 squads came right at the peak of the Showtime era.
Of the more recent teams starring Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, however, there is no doubt that the 2001 squad stands above the rest. This wasn’t because of their regular season accolades, as they actually had the fewest wins of any of the Lakers five championships in the 2000s.
Once the playoffs started this team flipped the switch and reached a level that few have ever matched. On May 27, 2001, the Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 111-82, completing a sweep of not only that series, but of their entire Western Conference playoff run.
First was the Portland Trail Blazers, who never came close to threatening L.A. in their three-game sweep.
The Sacramento Kings actually made the games close, but still weren’t good enough to take one in the second round. As for the top-seeded Spurs, Bryant and O’Neal took their hearts out in San Antonio before bringing the hammer down at Staples Center and this Game 4 was a major blowout.
The Lakers led by 23 at the half and never looked back in this demolition. As per usual, Shaq and Kobe did a lot of damage as Shaq finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Kobe had 24 points and 11 assists.
But neither led the team in scoring on this night as that honor went to Derek Fisher who scored 28 points on 11 of 13 shooting including 6 of 7 from three-point range.
As we all know, Allen Iverson would go crazy in leading the Philadelphia 76ers to steal Game 1 of the NBA Finals, ending the Lakers perfect playoff run. But they would go on to reel off four straight after that for their second straight NBA championship.
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