The 60 Greatest Playoff Moments: Nos. 41-50
The succinct call from Marv Albert is iconic: "Oh! A spec-tac-ular move by Michael Jordan!" The mid-air switch from right hand to left was one of 13 consecutive made field goals for Jordan (who went 15-18 for the game), as the Bulls turned a close game against the Lakers into series-tying blowout which propelled them toward their first NBA championship. Not to be forgotten in the Bulls eventual series-win over Los Angeles was the play of Scottie Pippen, who logged more playoff minutes in the championship run than any other Bull and led Chicago in scoring in the Game 5 clincher with 32 points.
Vinnie Johnson hit a 14-footer with 0.7 seconds left to give Detroit a 92-90 win in Portland, sealing a second consecutive championship for the Pistons. The Microwave sparked Detroit's late rally, scoring seven points in a game-closing 9-0 run.
After Michael Jordan beat the Jazz at the buzzer of Game 1, the Bulls expected MJ might be double-teamed with the score tied at 86 near the end of Game 6. Reserve sharpshooter Steve Kerr said he'd be ready to knock down the game-winner and he was, hitting a 17-footer to send Chicago to its fifth NBA championship.
When we think of playing hurt in the NBA Finals, we think of Willis Reed. But the NBA's original dominant big man, George Mikan, played Game 5 of the 1949 Finals with a cast on his broken wrist. He scored 22 points as the Lakers went on to win their first-ever NBA title. His scoring tear also gave him a then-record 303 points in one postseason (10 games). It was the first of five NBA titles for Mikan and the Lakers, the NBAís first dynasty.
No team had cut as wide a swath through the NBA as the Los Angeles Lakers did in 1972. They won 69 games, including a professional sports record of 33 in a row at one point and had breezed their way to the Finals. The Knicks had some hope before Game 5 as reports had Lakers center Wilt Chamberlain unable to play. But Wilt took an anti-inflammatory injection, and his 24 points and 29 rebounds helped the Lakers win their first title in L.A, with Wilt winning the Finals MVP trophy.
In the closing seconds of Game 4, the Celtics ran a real-life version of the Hoosiers "picket fence". Sam Jones came off the screens and got a shooter's roll to beat the Lakers 89-88, tying the series 2-2 and setting up one of the great upsets in Finals history.
Spurs big man and reigning league MVP Tim Duncan had the game of his life in Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals. Duncan helped the Spurs overcome a nine-point fourth quarter deficit and he fell two blocks shy of a quadruple-double. His eight blocks tied a playoffs record.
On the verge of losing three straight games for the first time all season and trailing by 15 points with 10:28 to play in the fourth quarter, the Lakers go a 29-9 run to close out the game and eliminate the Blazers 89-84, punctuated by a thunderous Shaquille OíNeal dunk off a lob from Kobe Bryant.
In the greatest Finals upset in NBA Finals history, the Golden State Warriors win a nail-biter to finish the sweep over the heavily favored Washington Bullets. The Warriors won all four games by a total margin of just 16 points.
Allan Houstonís short jumper with 0.8 seconds left in the game gave the No. 8 seed New York Knicks a stunning 78-77 victory in the game and a 3-2 win in the series over the Miami Heat.
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