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June 21, 2013

NBA Finals Game 7s are a rare treat

A look back at some of the Finals' most memorable endings

(Continued)

1994

Rockets 90, Knicks 84. Hakeem Olajuwon scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, leading the Houston Rockets past the New York Knicks and officially ending the Chicago Bulls’ reign atop the NBA world. It’s not Olajuwon’s stats that people remember most about Game 7. That distinction goes to John Starks, the Knicks guard who kept shooting and shooting ... and missing and missing. Starks finished 2 for 18 from the floor, scoring just eight points for New York. And the Knicks still had a great chance, being down just three points with under 3 minutes remaining. But a basket by Olajuwon and a 3-pointer by Vernon Maxwell all but sealed the title for Houston. Maxwell finished with 21 for the Rockets. For the Knicks, Derek Harper scored 23 points and Patrick Ewing finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. As for Starks, his 0 for 11 from 3-point range has only been matched once in the two decades since, by Antoine Walker in 2001.

1988

Lakers 108, Pistons 105. Pat Riley famously said that his Los Angeles Lakers would defend their 1987 title. He was correct, but his club was taken to the absolute limit by Detroit. The Pistons played down the stretch without their floor leader, as Isiah Thomas succumbed to the sprained ankle he was trying to play through. But they gave the Lakers all they wanted, cutting a 15-point deficit all the way to one on Bill Laimbeer’s 3-pointer. The Pistons would not score again, the Lakers got a layup to clinch the title and with that Riley’s team survived its third Game 7 of that year’s playoffs. James Worthy was magnificent, finishing with 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for Los Angeles, which went 4-0 in games where it was facing postseason elimination. Joe Dumars scored 25 for the Pistons, who led the series 3-2 before the 2-3-2 series returned to Los Angeles.

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