The 1987 Los Angeles Lakers had one goal and one goal only: to return to the NBA Finals and win the fourth championship of the ‘Showtime’ era. After finally defeating the hated Boston Celtics in the 1985 Finals, everyone was ready for a rematch the following year.
Unfortunately Magic Johnson and co. were shockingly upset by the Houston Rockets. Some of the biggest conspiracy theorists even going so far as to claim the Lakers purposefully lost to avoid facing the eventual champion Celtics.
The Lakers looked to end all of those conversations in ‘87 and with the playoffs just around the corner, they decided to send a message to the rest of the league that this would be a different year.
On April 16, 1987, Magic finished with 31 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals in leading the Lakers to their 11th straight win, a 110-97 blowout of the Utah Jazz.
Johnson wasn’t alone as he had plenty of help on this night. Both James Worthy (22 points, 10 rebounds) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (15, 10) posted double-doubles while Byron Scott added 17 points and A.C. Green had 12.
The Lakers also showed off their defensive prowess on this night. The 1980s are known for high-scoring, fast-paced basketball, but the Lakers showed they could lock down when necessary. They held the Jazz, a playoff team, to 10 points below thier season average.
A familiar face led the Jazz as Karl Malone scored 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Carey Scurry also had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds while young John Stockton had four points, eight assists, and three steals off the bench.
This would prove to be exactly what the Lakers needed to get ready for the playoffs. They dominated the West, going 11-1 on their way to the NBA Finals where they would, one last time, dispatch of the Celtics for another NBA title.
Magic Johnson had truly taken over as the leader of this team and on this day 21 years ago, he made sure his troops were ready for the fight ahead of them.
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