• Mike Ricci

The All-Time Tournament: Western Conference Round 2

On Wednesday we wrapped up the second round of the Eastern Conference All-Time Playoffs. The heavily favored Boston Celtics were pushed to the brink by the Detroit Pistons while the Chicago Bulls disposed of the Philadelphia 76ers in five games. As we did with the Eastern Conference wrap up, we go game by game for the series that went seven games and briefly recap the other series. Don’t worry if you prefer the game by game format, we will be using that style for the conference finals as well as the championship round. Enjoy the rest of the second round!

West Round 2:

Los Angeles Lakers (1) vs ThunderSonics (5)

Game 1: Lakers 101-98

Box Score

An Elgin Baylor three pointer from the left wing with 52 seconds left in the game was the difference in the first game of this series as the starting five for the Lakers combined for 81 of the 101 points for the Lakers. Kevin Durant was lights out from beyond the arch connecting on four of five three’s and Shawn Kemp scored 19 points while collecting 13 rebounds and three blocks.

Game 2: Lakers 133-91

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This was only a five point Lakers lead at halftime but the second half turned into a nightmare for the ThunderSonics. The 42 point Los Angeles win is the largest margin of victory in the tournament so far. Shaq and Pau Gasol both tallied triple-doubles and Elgin Baylor and Magic Johnson paced the team in scoring with 25 and 24 points respectively.

Game 3: ThunderSonics 103-84

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After two Laker wins at the Great Western Forum, the series shifted to the Key Arena for game three with the ThunderSonics needing a victory. In an effort to motivate the team, Gary Payton started giving the ThunderSonics a motivational speech that quickly turned into him and Russell Westbrook screaming in the faces of their teammates. The result was a ThunderSonics squad that wasn’t so much motivated to lose the game, but more worried about making Payton and Westbrook mad and the consequences this would.

Maybe it was the pregame speech or maybe it was the poor shooting performance from the Lakers, but the ThunderSonics managed to pull out a victory in game three and keep hope alive in this best of seven series.

Game 4: ThunderSonics 107-102

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*Photo via NBC

Game four was where the ThunderSonics were saved by their modern era thanks to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook who combined for 58 of the team’s 107 points. The duo kept Los Angeles at arms length during the fourth quarter never allowing the Lakers to tie or take the lead despite several big shots by Elgin Baylor to bring the game within one point.

Westbrook was named player of the game for a performance that included 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals to go with his game high 32 points.

Game 5: Lakers 98-96

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As the series returned back to Los Angeles for game five, the Lakers looked to stop their two game skid and take control of the series from the ThunderSonics. Leading the way on offense was Elgin Baylor with 20 points. Shaquille O’Neal, taking advantage of a mismatch over Jack Sikma, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots.

The ThunderSonics leaned heavily on their modern day superstars Durant and Westbrook as they charged out to a seven point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Kobe Bryant hit a jumper to give the Lakers a 96-94 lead with 16 seconds to play in the game but the ThunderSonics would answer. Westbrook found Spencer Haywood in the corner for a bank shot to tie the game with three seconds left. The assist was Westbrook’s 10th of the contest giving him a triple double (23 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists).

However the Lakers got the last laugh after Elgin Baylor took the inbounds pass and blew by Kevin Durant for the game winning layup as time expired.

Game 6: ThunderSonics 114-105

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Back at home, the ThunderSonics wasted no time taking control of the game and eventually forcing a game seven. Russell Westbrook continued his great play and led his team with 30 points to go along with five rebounds, six assists, and two steals.

For the second time this round, we are headed to a seventh game involving a number one seed!

Game 7: Lakers 110-99

Box Score

There is something about a game seven in Los Angeles. The drama normally reserved for Hollywood and the silver screen being poured onto a hardwood court for one night, one game, for 48 short minutes. There have been magical moments featuring the Lakers in game sevens. There was the alley-oop to Shaq against Portland, the NBA Finals in 2010 and 1988, and the Bill Russell balloon game.

This particular game seven saw several players play their best basketball of the series including Magic Johnson dishing out 14 assists along with his 14 points. Shaq added 25 points and 10 rebounds while holding Jack Sikma and Shawn Kemp to 14 points combined. Kobe Bryant chipped in 22 points and 7 assists as the Lakers cruised to a victory in game seven.

Series MVP: Elgin Baylor

It was over when…: With 3:48 remaining in game seven, the ThunderSonics made a run to cut the Laker lead to 10. While victory was still a long shot, Shaq and Kobe combined for eight unanswered points to stretch the lead to 16 with 2:57 to play.

San Antonio Spurs (2) vs Golden State Warriors (3)

Game 1: Spurs 106-93

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Game 2: Spurs 97-87

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Game 3: Warriors 113-107

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Game 4: Warriors 123-108

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Game 5: Warriors 110-98

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Game 6: Warriors 102-95

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*Photo via BAy Area News

The Spurs jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the Warriors thanks to a starting five who handled a lion’s share of the scoring contributing 169 of San Antonio’s 203 points between the two games. The Spurs also managed to outrebound the Warriors in both games as well as tally up more assists during the opening two games.

The Warriors were slowed down in game two due to poor offensive production outside of Wilt Chamberlain and Stephen Curry. In fact, the entire Golden State team ony shot 40% from the field in game two.

When the series shifted to Golden State in game 3 Wilt Chamberlain turned into a monster. After averaging only 14 rebounds per game in San Antonio, he responded by averaging 21.8 rebounds in games three through five.

While one can attribute the series turnaround to Wilt finding another level in his game, but it can also be chalked up to the Warriors starting to catch fire from three including shooting at least 50% in three of the final four games of the series.

Series MVP: Wilt Chamberlain

*Photo via USA Today

It was over when…: During the first half of game six the Splash Brothers seemed to be unable to miss a three pointer. When the dust settled, the Warriors had a ten point halftime lead, at home, and Wilt Chamberlain holding Tim Duncan to six points.

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