The Blazers’ double-overtime win against the Lakers in the final regular season game between the two teams was supposed to indicate that the Blazers could hang with the two-time defending NBA champs. Yeah right!
On the eve of game 3, Phil Jackson told his team he wanted them to play with the poise of champions. Down 4 points with a tick over 17 seconds left in the game, the Lakers did exactly that.
First, Kobe stepped out from behind a Shaq screen and hit a three. The lead was down to one. Scottie “I have six championships rings” Pippen then missed one of two free throws.
With ten seconds left on the clock, and needing only a two to tie, Kobe drove down the right side of the lane. When Pippen came over to help, Kobe kicked the ball out to the waiting Horry.
Still the Blazers had 2.1 seconds left in which to manufacture a shot.
Somehow, Scottie ‘I have six championship rings’ Pippen managed to miss Rasheed Wallace and inbound the ball to the Lakers. (I’m guessing it wasn’t the play Blazers Coach Maurice Cheeks drew up during the time out.)
Game over. Series over.
Ever since the Lakers’ spectacular 4th quarter comeback against the Blazers (or the Blazers’ spectacular melt down against the Lakers, depending on which way you look at it) in game 7 of the Western Conference Championships two years ago, the Blazers have posed no threat to the champs.
What was once expected to be a bitter, hard fought rivalry has developed into almost total dominance for the Lakers. Including that infamous game 7, the Lakers have now won seven consecutive playoff games against the Blazers.
The two first-round sweeps the last two years, capped by Sunday’s dramatic late victory in game 3 this year, only served to emphasis how far the Lakers have come and how far the Blazers have fallen.