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Why Game 7 of the 2000 Nba Western Conference Finals Is One of the Best Games of the 21st Century

Updated on November 18, 2023
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The late Kobe Bryant is about to attempt a free throw.
The late Kobe Bryant is about to attempt a free throw. | Source

Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals is one of the Best Games Ever

Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers is one of the best games of the 21st century and it really deserves being in the discussion of being one of the best playoff victories for the Los Angeles Lakers as well. Why is this the case? Here are the reasons:

The 3 Reasons for the Greatness of Game 7 in the 2000 NBA Western Conference Finals

1. The Lakers were facing the possibility of losing three games in a row and ending their season, something that had not happened all season under Coach Phil Jackson.

2. Shaquille O’ Neal was one vote short of being named the unanimous NBA MVP that season.

3. The Portland Trail Blazers with their immense talent and great perimeter shooting gave the Los Angeles Lakers everything they could possibly handle. No team in the league gave the Lakers as much trouble as Portland did that year.

How Was the Stage Set for one of the Greatest Playoff Comebacks Ever by the Los Angeles Lakers?

After a relatively close first half played by these two teams, Portland went into halftime with a 42-39 lead. However, in the 3rd quarter, the Trail Blazers went on an 18-2 run after the Lakers had closed the gap to 53-51. Steve Smith was one of the major reasons why the Portland Trailblazers at one point had an 18 point lead near the end of the 3rd quarter. Scottie Pippen who had been the very good second option as an offensive player in the 1990’s Chicago Bulls team made a 3-pointer at the end of that 3rd quarter to give what seemed like a comfortable lead for the Trail Blazers going into the 4th quarter. Portland with their tough defense had totally confused the Lakers as the Lakers were totally out of sync on the offensive side. I thought for sure that the Lakers were headed to another postseason loss after the Trail Blazers built that huge lead. So did the rest of those fans at the Staples Center who had gotten totally quiet. But they were about to see one of the greatest playoff comebacks by the Los Angeles Lakers.

How Did the Lakers Come Back in This Game?

The superb play of Brian Shaw and Robert Horry off the bench with their critical 3-point shots helped to bring the Lakers back from the brink of defeat. This was a major factor combined with the fact that Portland just could not make baskets in that 4th quarter. Their coach Mike Dunleavy said in an interview after that game the players’ legs were just tired and that the team did not celebrate too early.

The Lakers Come Back to Win and Go to the NBA Finals

After a missed shot by Brian Shaw, Horry who had been such a huge contributing factor for the Houston Rockets championship years got the ball out of the pile of players, stepped behind the line and made a three pointer which brought the Lakers back to within 5 points of a tie. The crowd at the Staples Center was roaring their approval as the Lakers team came back to life from an offensive perspective. Portland at one point scored only four points in that 4th quarter in one of the driest shooting spells in their history. Portland only scored 13 points on that 4th quarter and lost the game 89-84. The quarter was won convincingly by the Lakers as they outscored Portland 31-13 and went to the NBA Finals and they beat an Indiana Pacers team coached by Larry Bird to win their first NBA title since 1988. Game 7 of that Western Conference Finals ranks as one of the best Laker playoff victories ever along with Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals and Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals.

Notable Players from Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers Roster in 1999-2000

Shaquille O' Neal
Derek Fisher (not to be confused with the former Houston Astros baseball player)
Rasheed Wallace
Kobe Bryant (He is deceased as of January 26, 2020).
A.C. Green
Scottie Pippen
Glen Rice
Brian Shaw
Steve Smith
Ron Harper
Robert Horry
Detlef Schrempf
John Salley
Arvydas Sabonis
Rick Fox
Stacey Augmon
Brian Grant
Greg Anthony
Bonzi Wells

Final Thoughts About This Famous Game 7 Between the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trailblazers

The Portland Trail Blazers should have probably won this Game 7 against the Lakers because of their talent and because of the fact that they were so far ahead at the end of that 3rd quarter. To add to this, the Trail Blazers put up a valiant effort, coming back from a 3 games to 1 deficit just to force a Game 7. The Lakers bench players came up very big so it was not just because of the play of "Shaq" and Kobe Bryant. Game 7 showed that the Los Angeles Lakers could work their magic and come back and win if they stuck to playing defense which is one of the things that this team did.

In the 21st century which is so far 18 years old, this Game 7 along with the 2002 Western Conference Finals Game 4 against the tough Sacramento Kings team rank as the two best Los Angeles Lakers playoff victories in the 21st century. If Game 3 was great, for the Los Angeles Lakers, Game 7 was an even bigger victory given the amount of pressure that was on them to win a championship. This team had two of the best offensive players in the league at that time as well as Phil Jackson, who is considered to be one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. He led the Los Angeles Lakers to the 2000 NBA championship after being involved with the Chicago Bulls from 1989 through 1998.

© 2018 Ara Vahanian


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