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NBA Playoffs 2002 Finals - Lakers vs. Nets

L.A. Lakers pictures, history, records, championships, and data about Kobe Bryant and players like Magic Johnson

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2002 NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers 4 Vs. New Yersey Nets 0

Game 1: New Jersey 94, LA Lakers 99 at LAL Game recap & pictures
Game 2: New Jersey 83, LA Lakers 106 at LAL Game recap & pictures
Game 3: LA Lakers 106, New Jersey 103 at NJ Game recap & pictures
Game 4: LA Lakers 113, New Jersey 107 at NJ Game recap & pictures


GAME 1:  Los Angeles Lakers 99 - New Jersey Nets 94

Welcome Nets to the NBA finals.

Playoff picture, click to enlarge LOS ANGELES. The Nets arrived to their first NBA Finals game in franchise history. And Shaquille O'Neal gave them a very rude welcome, as he did with Indiana two years ago, and with Philadelphia last year.

O'Neal powered his way to 36 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks as he lifted the Lakers to a 99-94 victory.

June has indisputably become O'Neal's time of year. He has won the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player each of the last two seasons and wasted no time getting started on a third award.

In the opener two years ago against Indiana, the 7-1, 350-pound O'Neal muscled his way to 43 points. Last year, he went for 44 and 20 rebounds in an overtime loss to Philadelphia.

For 1 1/2 quarters, this game looked like a regular-season Nets-Lakers game -- from last year.

The Lakers' opening duel in the NBA Finals was supposed to be against the New Jersey Nets. It was, instead, against their infernal yawns. They won by five points but could have won by 30. O'Neal scored 36 points but could have scored 60. The Lakers could have soared but, instead, they shrugged.

The Lakers dashed to a 23-point lead midway through the second quarter with everything these startled New Jersey visitors had feared.

O'Neal hit a reverse layup on a no-look pass from Kobe Bryant.

Rick Fox hit a layup on a floor-length pass from Robert Horry.

Bryant sank a left-handed runner in the dazed face of Kerry Kittles.

Derek Fisher hit a three-pointer after grabbing a pass by a falling-out-of-bounds Horry.

In four consecutive possessions.

It was wild. It was loud. It all figured.

And then, it didn't.

They spent the remainder of the evening being outscored by 18 points, although the Nets never had the ball with a chance to tie the game, never looked like serious contenders, and didn't sound like it afterward.

Against a lost Nets squad, O'Neal made five of seven shots and scored 10 points in only nine minutes of work. With the Lakers comfortably ahead, Jackson rested O'Neal for the final three minutes of the first quarter and the first three minutes of the second while LA widened the lead without him, taking it from 25-10 to 36-15 with 8:52 remaining in the second quarter. O'Neal returned and abused the smaller Aaron Williams for three straight hoops and a 42-19 bulge.

New Jersey scored 17 of the next 23 points to climb within 48-36 at halftime. They showed even more life in the third quarter, this time on the offensive end. Consecutive 3-pointers by Van Horn made it a 10-point game before Bryant answered with a flying dunk. A three-point play by Martin and a 3-pointer by Kittles had the Nets within 60-56 with 5:23 left. O'Neal put in a layup and Bryant made two free throws to restore some order.

Bryant scored 11 points in the period as the Lakers rebuilt their lead to 72-63 entering the final quarter.

The Nets got as close as three points twice in the fourth quarter. Kenyon Martin sank two free throws to pull New Jersey within 84-81 with 4:47 to play. But O'Neal made the Nets pay for their Hack-a-Shaq strategy, sinking four of six free throws in the final 3:25 to help put the game away.

Kobe scored a quiet 22 points on just 6-of-16 shooting, Fox added 14 and Derek Fisher 13 for the Lakers, who attempted just 25 shots with 39 free throws in the second half. Los Angeles was 32-of-45 from the line and enjoyed a 50-45 advantage on the boards to stall New Jersey's fastbreak offense.

Jason Kidd posted another triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Martin scored 21 points and Van Horn added 12 for the Nets, who shot under 40 percent (37-of-94).

The Quotes

Jason Kidd: "The best way to defeat him is to figure out what car he's going to drive and put sand in the gas tank. If he makes it to the arena, we're going to be in trouble."

Kobe Bryant: "We felt we had to get back to basics, get back to executing. Pound the ball inside and let Shaq take us home."

Richard Jefferson (NJN): "It's a long, loooong series. We've just got to get one."

Highlights

Shaq 36 pts 16 reb 4 block
Kobe 22 pts 6 assist
Fox 14 pts 8 reb
Fisher 13 pts
Jason Kidd (NJN) 23 pts 10 reb 10 assist
Kenyon Martin (NJN) 21 pts 6 reb


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GAME 2:  Los Angeles Lakers 106 - New Jersey Nets 83

Nets have no answer for Shaq

Playoff picture, click to enlarge LOS ANGELES. O'Neal again overwhelmed the Nets with 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as the Los Angeles Lakers took command of the NBA Finals with a 106-83 victory.

Whatever adjustments Nets coach Byron Scott made over the last two days, they had absolutely no effect. O'Neal was even better than he was in Game One.

This time, the 7-1, 350-pound O'Neal flashed some finesse with his usual force. In addition to his nine dunks, he was 12-of-14 from the line and looked almost nimble on his arthritic big toe.

O'Neal made 14-of-23 shots and flashed more of his underrated all-around skills. He finished off a couple of fast breaks, dropped a beautiful no-look, back-door pass to Brian Shaw in the second quarter and protected the paint well.

Through the first three quarters, O'Neal annihilated Nets centers Todd MacCulloch, Aaron Williams and Jason Collins for 36 points, going through them more than around them.

And when the cold-shooting Nets finally put together a flurry of 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter, O'Neal returned and quickly restored order. He dunked and sank two free throws, starting a 23-6 run that buried the Nets.

It was the fifth career 40-point Finals game for O'Neal. He had three against Indiana two years ago and another in the opener last year vs. Philadelphia.

Bryant scored 24 points and Derek Fisher had 10 of his 12 in the final seven minutes for the Lakers, who never trailed and found the killer instinct that had been missing in Game One. They made four straight 3-pointers to end the game.

Kerry Kittles scored 23 points and Kidd added 17 -- all in the second half -- for the Nets, who shot under 35 percent (30-of-86). New Jersey has held the lead for less than a minute in the series.

The prime culprit was reserve guard Lucious Harris, who missed all nine of his shots. Starting forwards Kenyon Martin and Keith Van Horn combined for 15 points on just 5-of-17 shooting.

Only two teams have erased a 2-0 deficit to win the Finals. Since the 2-3-2 format was instituted in 1985, the home team never has won the middle three games.

At least New Jersey didn't suffer the same first-period fate in Game 1, when the Nets fell behind 29-14. Remarkably, the Nets trailed just 27-21 after one quarter and 49-43 at halftime despite shooting 30.6 percent (15 for 49) and having Jason Kidd go scoreless. Kidd missed all five of his shots, but Kerry Kittles and Richard Jefferson kept New Jersey close with 12 and eight points, respectively, in the first half.

Kidd found his offense in the third quarter, scoring 11 points. But that did nothing to solve the problem of O'Neal. He quickly put MacCulloch on the bench with his fourth foul and added two more dunks, including one on a pretty pick-and-roll with Bryant that -- with a foul shot -- made it 61-52 with 6 1/2 minutes to go.

Three minutes later, O'Neal headfaked Williams, who landed on his back for a foul. O'Neal easily supported the 225-pound forward, then sank both free throws for a 70-57 advantage. While New Jersey was missing nine straight shots, a lane turnaround by O'Neal and a 3-pointer by Shaw built the bulge to 77-57 with 1:53 left.

A 3-pointer by Kittles and two by Kidd highlighted an 11-0 burst that got the Nets back in it for the last time at 79-72 early in the final period before O'Neal returned. He followed another 3-pointer by Kittles with his final dunk, then added two free throws less than 40 seconds later for an 85-77 lead before turning it over to his teammates with sharp passes out of double-teams. The biggest beneficiary was Fisher, who fueled the final run.

Fox had 10 points and eight rebounds and Robert Horry added nine and 10 for the Lakers, who shot 50 percent (39-of-78), including 9-of-16 from the arc.

The Quotes

Scott (NJ coach): "Shaq's a monster, I don't know what to really do against him right now."

Kobe Bryant: "Shaq is so dominant, he'll shoot 55 percent on an off night, there's nothing you can do about that."

Highlights

Shaq 40 pts 12 reb 8 assist
Kobe 24 pts 8 reb
Fox 10 pts 8 reb 6 assist
Fisher 12 pts 5 reb
Horry 9 pts 10 reb 3 block
Jason Kidd (NJ) 17 pts 9 reb 7 assist
Kerry Kittles (NJ) 23 pts


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GAME 3:  Los Angeles Lakers 106 - New Jersey Nets 103

Kobe finally emerged at the NBA Finals

Playoff picture, click to enlarge EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey -- Kobe Bryant broke out with 36 points and led a late rally as the Lakers edged the neophyte Nets, 106-103, and moved within one win of their third straight championship.

Obscured by the imposing shadow of Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant had quietly averaged 23 points as the Lakers won the first two games. He had been reduced to a complementary player as O'Neal destroyed the Nets in Los Angeles.

Hosting the first Finals game in franchise history, the Nets went to double-teams and zones that somewhat slowed O'Neal but opened up the floor for the other Lakers -- specifically Bryant, who reminded everyone that he also is one of the top players in the game.

Showing aggression he had not displayed in the first two games, Bryant made 14-of-23 shots. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, including two tough baskets over defensive demon Jason Kidd that kept the lead at four points.

Nobody was confident the Nets could dig their way out of their 2-0 hole. But one thing you have to give them,they're a brave little crew. Too little to deal with Shaq but brave enough to keep trying.

After two games of trying to single cover O'Neal, a mistake no West team would make, Scott finally tried double-teaming Sunday.

Predictably, since the Nets hadn't double-teamed all season, they didn't do it well. They came softly and late, and Shaq had his usual 21 points by halftime, by which time the Lakers had taken their usual double-figure lead.

This time, however, the Nets, who'd trailed by 23 points in each of the first two games, were never down by more than 14.

Then, trailing, 78-70, late in the third quarter, the Nets went on a blistering 14-0 run, with Kidd scoring six of the points and assisting on two more baskets.

So the Lakers just came from seven points behind in the last 6 minutes 44 seconds with a notable contribution from Devean George, who'd been struggling all postseason.

George made two free throws and a follow dunk around a drive by Bryant to cut the deficit to 94-93 with 4:39 left.

Kidd hit a jumper, but O'Neal -- who was 11-of-17 from the line -- made two free throws before finding Horry for a 3-pointer that gave LA the lead for good with 3:04 to go.

On the next possession, Bryant drilled a 22-footer from the left wing over Kidd, who made a jumper off a scramble at the other end.

Then it was O'Neal's turn. He spun left for a banker that beat the shot clock and made it 102-98 with 58 seconds to play, then soared to block a drive by Kidd 10 seconds later. But Bryant kept things tense by missing a pair of free throws with 42 seconds left.

After Keith Van Horn halved the deficit with a long jumper, Bryant dribbled into the lane and nearly lost the ball to Kerry Kittles. But he grabbed it and spun for a 10-footer over Kidd with 19 seconds to go.

Kidd made a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left, but Rick Fox sank two big free throws. With the Nets out of timeouts, Kidd's desperation runner from 30 feet bounced off the backboard, draining the emotional sellout crowd.

While persevering through a difficult East finals against the Boston Celtics, the Nets concluded they had become a team of destiny. However, as they are now finding out, there are a lot of possible destinies and theirs was to get run over by the bigger, better and more experienced Lakers.

The Quotes

Byron Scott (NJ coach): "You guys were treated to seeing three of the best players in the world play tonight, unfortunately, they had two of them."

more Scott: "Great players make great plays, and Kobe made two big ones."

Highlights

Shaq 35 pts 11 reb 4 block
Kobe 36 pts 6 reb 4 assist 2 block
Fisher 13 pts 6 assist
Jason Kidd (NJ) 30 pts 10 assist
Kenyon Martin (NJ) 26 pts


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GAME 4:  Los Angeles Lakers 113 - New Jersey Nets 107

Three-Peat

Playoff picture, click to enlarge EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey -- This year's offering from the Laker dynasty completed what Magic, Kareem, and Worthy could not -- winning three straight titles for the first time since the franchise was in Minneapolis.

It was the 14th championship for the Lakers and their ninth since moving from Minneapolis in 1960. It also marked the first time they had swept the Finals. It was the seventh sweep in Finals history and the first since 1995, when O'Neal was on the wrong end of Houston's demolition of Orlando. He had been pained by that loss for a long time and put the hurt on the Nets.

The 2001-02 Lakers became the first Phil Jackson team to sweep the NBA Finals. In the process, Phil Jackson has cemented his reputation for being one of the greatest playoff coaches ever. He tied the legendary Red Auerbach with his ninth title and overtook Pat Riley as the all-time playoff wins leader with 156.

Maintaining that he was on a mission, O'Neal averaged 36.3 points and 12.3 rebounds as he demoralized every defense thrown at him and was a unanimous selection for his third straight NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award. Shaq scored 145 points, setting a record for a four-game Finals. He also established marks with 11 blocks, 68 free-throw attempts and 45 made, putting "Hack-a-Shaq" to rest, once and for all.

To finish off the Nets, the Lakers had to erase a 34-27 deficit after one quarter and withstand another late New Jersey comeback. Down 84-80 after three, the Nets charged ahead at 87-84 in the final period on a 7-0 spurt fueled by Jason Kidd, but the Lakers went on a 22-10 run to take control.

Five different Lakers scored during the decisive stretch. Kobe Bryant started the Lakers' final title drive with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 87, and O'Neal fittingly concluded it with a pair of free throws with 4:05 remaining.

O'Neal collected 34 points and 10 rebounds. Bryant scored nine of his 25 points in the final quarter. Kenyon Martin led the Nets with a game-high 35 points, while Kidd had a sub-par game with 13 points (on 5-of-14 shooting) and five rebounds but did record 12 assists.

And when O'Neal was ready, corks banged off a tile ceiling, and they shouted hysterically when the champagne came.

Bryant, who a year ago slumped in a shower stall by himself, danced among them. Rick Fox held the game ball and a Bahamian flag. Derek Fisher turned his cap backward and shrieked for his third, as though it were his first.

The Lakers would party to dawn, fly mid-morning, and parade on Friday.

Before the game, Wednesday night, it was a young Bryant, hanging a Michael Jordan jersey and a Jordan rookie warm-up shirt in his Continental Airlines Arena locker for inspiration, because "he's the greatest of them all," he said.

Fifteen or 20 years from now some phenom will stride into the NBA Finals' championship news conference wearing a Laker jersey with a big "8" on his back, paying homage to superstar Kobe Bryant, and we will understand.

The Quotes

Shaquille O'Neal: "I was sort of a great player that didn't have any championships. Ever since I met Phil, now I have three."

Kenyon Martin (NJ): "Guys come to play every day, but some guys, you don't know when they're going to show up. I can deal with losing, but guys who don't bring it every day, that's something I can't deal with." (about some of his teammates)

Kobe Bryant: "I'm sure Sacramento's working out right now. We're not going to let our guards down. We're going to come back next year ready to play. They're going to try to take what we have and we're going to be waiting for them."

Magic Johnson: "Shoot, by the time he's finished, he could have nine or 10 championships. That's very realistic." (about Kobe Bryant)

Highlights

O'Neal 34 pts 10 reb 2 block
Bryant 25 pts 8 assist 6 reb
Horry 12 pts 6 assist
Fisher 13 pts George 11 pts
J. Kidd (NJ) 13 pts 12 assist
K. Martin (NJ) 35 pts 11 reb


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