Lakers History: Showtime Prevails in OT Thriller in Atlanta
As far as regular season games go, you can’t do much better in February than the defending champions visiting prime Dominique Wilkins and his Atlanta Hawks.
The hype must have been intense that night in Fulton County, yet both teams managed to overdeliver.
The outcome was an absolute barn burner stretched over the course of 53 thrilling minutes at the Omni Coliseum. The purple and gold took it by a score of 126-119, but the real winners were those lucky enough to witness it.
How good was the Lakers starting lineup in 1988? Four of them came into the game shooting above 50% from the field. The lone exception was A.C. Green, just missing the mark at 49%.
However, after trailing by six at the end of the first quarter, the Hawks came flying back to dramatically turn it around in the second quarter, and eventually taking a 10-point lead into the final frame.
Wilkins was at the height of his powers that year, averaging a career-high 30.7 points per game.
He rose to the occasion that night too, finishing with 38 (on 42 shot attempts!) but that Lakers team was always a cut above.
L.A. eventually erased the entirety of Atlanta’s lead on a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar skyhook (and-1) with 45 seconds left in regulation, prompting a wild celebration from the bench – including Pat Riley. It was the first time they were in front in the second half.
The Hawks would go on to force overtime, but by then the Lakers had all of the momentum.
Byron Scott scored 6 of his 18 in OT and Magic Johnson hit a dagger three-pointer to put the game out of reach. Earvin posted a mammoth triple-double too: 29 points, 19 assists and 11 rebounds.
You know who else dropped 38 that night? That would be James Worthy, who shot a fantastic 17-of-27 from the field and was perfect at the charity stripe in four attempts.
Green added 17 and 11 boards, while Cap chipped in 12 points to make sure the entirety of the starting five scored in double digits.
The Lakers finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA at 60-12 and wound up defeating the Detroit Pistons in the Finals to earn the 11th title in franchise history – and the final one of the Showtime Era.
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