This Day In Lakers History: Magic Johnson Sets NBA Finals Record With 21 Assists Against Celtics
Richard Mackson-Sports Illustrated

The building blocks to the greatest rivalry in American sports was set during the 1980s when the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers met in three NBA Finals over a four-year span. Their first matchup came in 1984, which ultimately went in the Celtics’ favor in a seven-game series.

But before the Lakers suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of their rivals, Magic Johnson made history. In Game 3, played June 3, 1984, Johnson dished out 21 assists to set an NBA Finals record.

It came in a 137-104 rout of the Celtics at the Great Western Forum, giving the Lakers a 2-1 series lead. L.A. held a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter, were ahead by 11 at halftime, then blew the game open in the third quarter.

Although the Lakers allowed 33 points coming out of the half, they scored 47 themselves. Larry Bird had a game-high 30 points and was one of four Celtics to reach double figures.

Johnson notched a triple-double by adding 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along with his record-setting number of assists, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the Lakers with 24 points.

Michael Cooper and Kurt Rambis each scored 17, and James Worthy added 13 points, meaning all Lakers starters reached double digits. So too did Bob McAdoo (21 points) and Mike McGee (15) off the bench.

Johnson’s record still stands for an NBA Finals game, though he also had 21 assists against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the 1991 Western Conference Finals.

As part of our efforts to help you understand how we handle the personal information you share with us, and in preparation for the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), we’ve updated our Privacy & Cookies Policy. The updated Privacy & Cookies Policy will take effect on May 22, 2018. By using our services on or after that date, you’ll be agreeing to our updated Privacy & Cookies Policy. We recommend that you read our updated Privacy & Cookies Policy in full.

You May Also Like

This Day In Lakers History: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant Dominate Pacers In Finals Rematch

The first of the Los Angeles Lakers’ three straight NBA Championships from 2000-02 was their toughest. The Indiana…

This Day In Lakers History: Elgin Baylor’s Triple-Double Sends L.A. To 1969 NBA Finals

The trio of Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain was one that was nearly unstoppable once they all came…

This Day In Lakers History: Michael Cooper Sets Then-NBA Finals Record With Six 3-Pointers Against Boston Celtics

The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics just may have the greatest sports rivalry of all-time. The two teams have…

This Day In Lakers History: Magic Johnson Dishes Out 21 Assists In Win Over Trail Blazers In Game 1 Of 1991 Western Conference Finals

By dispatching the Golden State Warriors in five games in the second round of the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles…