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Hardwood Classics: 1987 Western Conference Semifinals
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.
After sweeping Denver in the opening round of the 1987 playoffs, the Lakers made sure to avoid being upset by a Golden State team that went just 42-40 during the regular season.
Los Angeles (65-17) very nearly fell down that path in Game 1, trailing by seven at halftime. However, league MVP Magic Johnson and All-Star starter James Worthy had other plans.
The Lakers exploded for a 49-23 third quarter, pushing ahead for 125-116 win, as Worthy led the scoring with 28 points, while Johnson collected a monster triple-double with 25 points, 16 rebounds and 14 assists.
Game 2 was a scoring bonanza for the purple and gold, which had six players reach double figures in a 116-101 win. Thirty-nine-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the way with 25 points and four blocks, while Johnson (23 points) and Worthy (20) were excellent, per usual.
Plus, Defensive Player of the Year Michael Cooper shined on the other side of the ball, tallying 12 points, eight rebounds and 12 assists off the bench.
Game 3 was simply a beatdown, as the Lakers cruised to a 133-108 victory behind Worthy’s 28 points and another triple-double by Johnson (20 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists). Former No. 1 pick and mid-season acquisition Mychal Thompson got in on the action, racking up 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Game 4 appeared to be more of the same, as the Lakers took a 14-point lead heading into the final quarter. However, Golden State’s Sleepy Floyd wasn’t going to allow his team to be swept.
An All-Star for that year only, Floyd set NBA postseason records by scoring 29 points in the fourth quarter and 39 in the second half to finish with 51 on 18-of-26 shooting from the field and 13-of-14 on free throws.
Though Byron Scott (28 points) and Abdul-Jabbar (27) had the Lakers lined up for a win, Floyd added 10 assists and four steals, while receiving help from fellow one-time All-Star Joe Barry Carroll (23) and Larry Smith (16 rebounds), as the Warriors survived with a 129-121 victory in Oakland.
However, their season would end soon after. The Lakers once again built a big lead in Game 5, going up by 22 in three quarters, but this time buried Golden State, 118-106. Worthy led the way with 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting, while A.C. Green (20 points) and Johnson (19 points, 13 assists) did the rest.
Worthy was an animal throughout the series, averaging 22.0 points on a 62.0 percent clip (44-of-71). Johnson — whose 12.2 assists per game led the league just ahead of Floyd (10.3) — won the battle between top point guards by putting up 20.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 10.8 assists.
However, Floyd wasn’t a slouch, providing his team 22.6 points and 10.4 assists. In fact, with the likes of Carroll (20.0 points), Smith (13.8 points, 15.6 rebounds) and future five-time All-Star Chris Mullin all competing under first-year head coach George Karl, the Warriors were certainly a team capable of pushing the Lakers closer to elimination.
Nonetheless, Coach of the Year Pat Riley and co. ensured that one game was all Golden State would take, as the Lakers moved to 5-1 all-time against the Warriors in the playoffs.
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