James Worthy
James Worthy posts up against the Denver Nuggets in 1987.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Hardwood Classics: 1987 Opening Round

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

The Lakers are honoring their 1986-87 championship team’s 30th anniversary by wearing Hardwood Classics throwbacks for select games. The following is a part of a series chronicling that team’s title run.

For a juggernaut Lakers team that finished the season 68-17, the Denver Nuggets amounted to little more than a speed bump on their way to the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The Lakers had swept all five regular-season games against Denver and were about to add three more to that total.

The Nuggets had limped into the eighth seed with a 37-45 record, and Most Valuable Player Magic Johnson set the tone in Game 1 by hitting an 88-foot buzzer-beater to cap off a first half that saw the Lakers pile up 82 points.

James Worthy racked up 28 points on 12-of-14 shooting that night to lead the Lakers to a 128-95 win in their playoff opener.

Game 2 was the closest contest in terms of score, but the result was never in question considering Los Angeles ended the first quarter with a 40-23 lead.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the way with 28 points and four blocks, while Johnson (21 points, 15 assists) and A.C. Green (16 points, 13 rebounds) threw in double-doubles during L.A.’s 139-127 win.

Facing a sweep, the Nuggets came out strong on their home floor in Game 3, taking a 26-25 lead in the first quarter. However, the Lakers stopped fooling around from there, outscoring them by 38 the rest of the way for a 140-103 victory.

Byron Scott (25 points) and Worthy (22 points) filled the bucket, while Johnson (16 points, 14 assists) and Green (18 points, 10 rebounds) once again doubled up to knock out the Nuggets.

Worthy was a wrecking ball throughout the series, averaging a team-best 23.0 points on 72.2 percent shooting. Meanwhile, Scott put up 19.3 points and Johnson provided 17.7 points and 14.3 assists.

On the other end, the Lakers corralled future Hall of Famer Alex English — who was the NBA’s third-leading scorer that year (28.6 ppg) — by holding him 10 points below his season average.

L.A. would go on to face the Golden State Warriors, who also didn’t provide much of an obstacle in their championship run.

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