The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

June 20, 2013

Game 7s in NBA Finals are a rare treat

(Continued)

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1994: Rockets 90, Knicks 84. Hakeem Olajuwon scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, leading the Houston Rockets past the New York Knicks and officially ending the Chicago Bulls' reign atop the NBA world. It's not Olajuwon's stats that people remember most about Game 7. That distinction goes to John Starks, the Knicks guard who kept shooting and shooting ... and missing and missing. Starks finished 2 for 18 from the floor, scoring just eight points for New York. And the Knicks still had a great chance, being down just three points with under 3 minutes remaining. But a basket by Olajuwon and a 3-pointer by Vernon Maxwell all but sealed the title for Houston. Maxwell finished with 21 for the Rockets. For the Knicks, Derek Harper scored 23 points and Patrick Ewing finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. As for Starks, his 0 for 11 from 3-point range has only been matched once in the two decades since, by Antoine Walker in 2001.

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1988: Lakers 108, Pistons 105. Pat Riley famously said that his Los Angeles Lakers would defend their 1987 title. He was correct, but his club was taken to the absolute limit by Detroit. The Pistons played down the stretch without their floor leader, as Isiah Thomas succumbed to the sprained ankle he was trying to play through. But they gave the Lakers all they wanted, cutting a 15-point deficit all the way to one on Bill Laimbeer's 3-pointer. The Pistons would not score again, the Lakers got a layup to clinch the title and with that Riley's team survived its third Game 7 of that year's playoffs. James Worthy was magnificent, finishing with 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for Los Angeles, which went 4-0 in games where it was facing postseason elimination. Joe Dumars scored 25 for the Pistons, who led the series 3-2 before the 2-3-2 series returned to Los Angeles.

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1984: Celtics 111, Lakers 102. Round 1 goes to Larry Legend. In the first finals meeting between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the Celtics and Lakers traded punches in a tense first six games. Back at the Boston Garden for Game 7, Bird put up 20 points and 12 rebounds to get the better of his rival from Los Angeles. The Lakers cut a 14-point deficit to three with just over a minute remaining, but Cedric Maxwell forced a key steal on a pass from Johnson to Worthy and Dennis Johnson hit two free throws to seal the victory. Maxwell led the way with 24 points, eight assists and eight rebounds and Dennis Johnson scored 22 points for the Celtics. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 29 points, Worthy had 21 and Magic Johnson had 16 points and 15 assists for the Lakers. Magic would get his revenge over Bird in two more finals clashes, but he made just 5 of 14 shots in this one.

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