The 60 Greatest Playoff Moments: Nos. 21-30
The Celtics were watching a 17-point fourth-quarter lead slip away against the heavily favored Lakers at the Forum. With the lead cut to 103-102 in the final minutes, the ball was knocked away from John Havlicek, into the hands of Don Nelson at the free-throw line. Nellie put up a shot that hit the back of the rim and got the ultimate shooter's bounce: straight down and straight through the net. From there, Boston held on to win 108-106 as Bill Russell retired with the most improbable of his 11 titles.
Even Michael Jordan didn't know what to make of it. Not known for his 3-point shooting, Jordan just shrugged his shoulders after draining his record-setting sixth trey over Clifford Robinson during the first half of Game 1 against the Portland Trail Blazers. Jordan's 35 first-half points set a Finals record and he finished with 39.
If this series had taken placed today, it might be called the greatest ever. It opened with St. Louis defeating the Celtics in Boston Garden 125-123 in double-OT. It ended in Game 7 with St. Louis losing to the Celtics in Boston Garden 125-123 in double overtime after Bob Pettit’s last second attempt rolled off the rim. Each of the Hawks' three wins were by two points. With the exception of Game 7, the Celtics never won by less than five points. How did the two Celtics “rookies” handle the pressure of Game 7 in the Finals? Russell ---- 19 points, 32 rebounds; Heinsohn ----37 points and 23 rebounds, along with Frank Ramsey were instrumental in leading the Celtics to its first ever NBA title.
Reggie Miller capped a 31-point game by scoring eight points over an 8.9-second span, wiping out a six-point Knicks lead and giving the Pacers a series-opening 107-105 win before a stunned MSG audience.
Robert Horry delivers yet another memorable playoff moment, leading the Spurs to a double OT win and a 3-2 Series lead. In what will go down as one of the great clutch performances of all-time, "Big-Shot Rob" scores all 21 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining, to give the Spurs a 96-95 victory at the Palace, where the Pistons had been 63-19 over the past two regular seasons. Despite Detroit’s Game 6 bounce-back win, the Spurs would end any thoughts Detroit had of back-to-back championships, as they closed it out in front of the home crowd, 81-74.
After losing Game 1 at home, the Celtics were in a state of desperation at Boston Garden in Game 2: the Lakers had the ball and a 113-111 lead with 18 seconds left. Then, Gerald Henderson saved the day for Boston, stealing James Worthy's soft crosscourt pass and driving in for a game-tying layup. The Celtics would go on the win the game 124-121 in OT, and the series in seven games.
Larry Bird prevails in a classic playoff duel with Atlanta’s Dominique Wilkins as the Celts outlast the Hawks. Wilkins pours in 47 points but it is not enough to overcome the Celtics and Larry Bird, who scores 20 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter to advance, 118-116.
During the course of a mad scramble under the hoop in the closing seconds, Vlade Divac tries to bat the ball as far away from the basket as possible with the Kings leading by two. The only problem is that he hits it right to a waiting Robert Horry at the three-point line, who calmly drains the game-winning three and sends the Lakers on to Sacramento with the series tied 2-2 instead of trailing 3-1.
With the score tied at 115 with four seconds remaining in Game 3, Sam Jones of the Celtics tried to inbound the ball at halfcourt to Bob Cousy. The Lakers’ Jerry West stepped in, deflected the ball and raced downcourt for a game-winning layup at the horn. West was mobbed by teammates and the L.A. Sports Arena crowd, and carried off the court after giving the Lakers a 2-1 series lead. The Celtics would eventually win the series in an overtime Game 7.
With the series tied 2-2, the "Knick Killer" unleashed the game of a lifetime, scoring 39 points. It was in the fourth quarter that Miller truly was in the zone, hitting five three-pointers and tallying 25 points as the Pacers rallied to upset New York 93-86.
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