Inspired by Magic Johnson’s reflection (well, that and this ridiculous lockout robbing all NBA fans of something to talk about this summer) of some of his greatest moments with the Lakers during his one-on-one interview with L.A. Times’ Bill Plaschke at the Loyola Marymount University gymnasium last Saturday, we’ve compiled for you this top 5 post-season most memorable game-winners in Lakers history. Guess what’s number 1?
5. Ron Artest’s Layup Putback vs. Phoenix in Game 5 of the 2010 Western Conference Finals.
With the Lakers dropping the last 2 games in Phoenix, and the Suns gaining more and more momentum, the Lakers needed something to turn the tide of the series in their favor heading into Game 6. The Suns had just tied the game at 101 after climbing back from an 18-point deficit thanks to Jason Richardson‘s 3-pointer at the top of the key. Out of a timeout and with only 3.5 seconds left in the Game 5, Kobe Bryant airballed an off-balanced 3-pointer over Grant Hill and Steve Nash, but Ron Artest tracked the shot and puts it back in over Richardson to put the Lakers up 3-2 in the series. That shot allowed the Lakers eliminate the Suns in Game 6 at the US Airways Center and propelled them to win their back-to-back titles over Boston in the Finals.
4. Kobe Bryant’s Pull-up Jumper Over Jason Kidd in Game 2 of the 2000 Western Conference Semi-Finals
In one of the earliest clutch performance of his career, Kobe Bryant non-chalantly watches the game clock as it tickles down to about 7 seconds before making his move to win the game with a pull-up jumpshot over the outstretched arm of blonde-haired Jason Kidd, 97-96. The Lakers went on to win the series 4-1 and their first of 3 straight NBA championships under Phil Jackson.
3. Robert Horry’s 3-Point Dagger vs. Sacramento in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals
Not only is this one of the best clutch shots in Lakers history, it’s also one of the top game-winning shots in the NBA of all time. The Lakers were down in the series 2-1 and as much as 24 points in the game, but they rallied back to within 2 points in the 4th quarter setting up “Big Shot” Robert Horry‘s unintended 3-point bomb when Vlade Divac unknowingly tipped Shaquille O’Neal‘s missed layup attempt out to him and rocked Staples Center. The Lakers eventually won the final 2 games of the series to eliminate the Kings in 7 games, which led up to one of the most lopsided NBA Finals where the Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets, 4-0, to complete their 3-peat title.
2. Derek Fisher’s Miraculous 0.4 Buzzer Beater vs. San Antonio in Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semi-Finals
This shot is as close to the most memorable shot since, well, what’s listed as number 1. With the series tied at 2 apiece, the Lakers and the Spurs played a hotly contested Game 5 at the SBC Center. Kobe Bryant put the Lakers up 72-71 with only 11 seconds left in the game, but Tim Duncan answered with an improbable 18-foot prayer over Shaquille O’Neal and Karl Malone while falling down to give the Spurs what everybody thought was the game-winner. But not so fast says Fish as he threw up his own lucky turnaround shot out of an inbounds pass from Gary Payton and in the face of the challenging Manu Ginobili. Splash! No place on Earth was quieter than San Antonio after that shot dropped. The Lakers closed out the series the following game in Los Angeles, 88-76, but got swept in the Finals against Detroit.
1. Magic Johnson’s Running Hook vs. Boston in Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals
Not much else to say about this, except the late great Chick Hearn:
“Cooper takes the ball out of bounds, baseline. Kareem and Worthy to the left. Worthy comes right, to the left goes Magic…”
“Didn’t shoot it. Five seconds left…”
“Magic down the middle, just what I thought. A hook shot at 12…”
“Good! The Lakers take the lead on Magic Johnson’s running sky hook!”