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Looking back at the Lakers' Memorial Day performances

61877727 It's surely a weird feeling for Laker fans today, firing up their grills, hitting the beach and honoring the veterans that make our country safe.

That's because for the first time in three years, the Lakers aren't still playing basketball and competing for an NBA championship. Surely, Laker fans will still have plenty to talk about, such as the hiring of Mike Brown, who will have an introductory press conference Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo. But there won't be the prospect of being able to watch a Laker playoff game on television like in years past.

It's always a good thing for Laker fans if their team is still playing through Memorial Day, but a look back at some of the Lakers' performances on that holiday doesn't always spark a lot of good memories. Below the jump are a look at the Lakers' 2-2 record in Memorial Day playoff games. 

May 27, 1985: Lakers' 148-114 Game 1 loss to Boston Celtics in NBA Finals

 

Famously dubbed the "Memorial Day Massacre," the Lakers surprisingly offered little sign that they were ready to rectify their seven-game loss to Boston in the 1984 NBA Finals. Everything worked out in the end for the Lakers, who beat the Celtics in six games in the 1985 NBA Finals, but very few would see that coming after witnessing the Lakers' Game 1 effort. 

"It was a nightmare," Magic Johnson told The Times' Thomas Bonk.

Every available statistic appropriately summed up the huge disparity. The Lakers trailed by 30 points at halftime, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had as many personal fouls (three) as rebounds and were exposed in every defensive category imaginable. The Celtics shot a playoff record 61% from the field, Scott Wedman hit a playoff record for field accuracy by hitting all 11 of his shot attempts and the Lakers had no answer for Boston's frontline in Larry Bird (19 points, nine assists), Kevin McHale (26 points, nine rebounds) and Robert Parrish (18 points, eight rebounds).

There was still plenty of fight in the technical sense of the word. In the third quarter, Byron Scott shoved a forearm into Danny Ainge's back, Ainge threw the ball back at Scott's backside and, moments later, McHale struck an elbow into the back of Scott's head. But there was hardly any fight in the Lakers' overall effort. 

"We've been buried before," Lakers Coach Pat Riley said. "But we've never had dirt thrown in our faces."

May 25, 1987: Lakers' 133-102 Game 4 win over Seattle Supersonics in Western Conference Finals

The Lakers may have swept the Seattle Supersonics and proved their experience could match Seattle's lack of it. But the Lakers needed every ounce of their talent to take the first three games, with all of them decided by fewer than single digits. But with the Lakers smelling blood with a possible four-game sweep in Game 4, the Lakers didn't hold anything back.

The Lakers' 133-102 Game 4 win over Seattle in the 1987 Western Conference Finals featured the team's star players in Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper and James Worthy sitting on the bench for most of the fourth period with a lead pretty much secured. The Lakers led by as many as 32 points, forced Seattle into committing 21 turnovers and shooting only 36% from the field and rectified their 1986 Western Conference Finals loss to Houston. 

''What we experienced last year was a serious disappointment,'' said Abdul-Jabbar to reporters after scoring 13 points in 25 minutes. ''Whatever happened this year, we weren't going to let it be like last year, when we beat ourselves.''

May 31, 2004: Lakers' 96-90 Game 6 win over Minnesota Timberwolves in Western Conference Finals.

He only had 11 points in the entire series beforehand, but Kareem Rush proved to be the pleasant surprise in securing the Lakers' four NBA Finals appearance in five seasons.

While there were surely multiple factors in the Lakers advancing, such as Shaquille O'Neal (25 points), Kobe Bryant (20) and absence of Minnesota guard Sam Cassell, Rush was the one who made the significant push. He made six three-pointers, including one that gave the Lakers a 10-point lead with 3:22 remaining that sent the Staples Center crowd into a frenzy.

"He's one of the best shooters on the team," O'Neal told reporters. "I'm the guy that's always on him, and he responded. I didn't have to get on him too much (tonight)."

May, 25 2009: Lakers' 120-101 Game 4 loss to Denver Nuggets in Western Conference Finals

The Lakers showed for most of the 2009 NBA playoffs that their focus was as short-lived as the cookie-cutter action summer blockbuster. After taking Derek Fisher's "This is your moment" speech in Game 3 to hear with a clutch 103-97 win over Denver, the Lakers apparently forgot the next game about seizing the moment. In the Lakers' 120-101 Game 4 loss to Denver, the Nuggets dominated on the glass (58-40), in the paint (52 points to 34), in fastbreak points (15-5) and bench production (42-24). But it also appeared the Lakers were simply tired, realizing needlessly extending the seven-game Western Conference semifinals to Houston eventually caught up to them in fatigue.

"If we were tired, it was noticeable tonight because their energy was better," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson told reporters regarding the Nuggets. "That's perhaps the only thing I could say. But that's not a very good excuse."

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: The Lakers have gone 2-2 in playoff games on Memorial Day. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

 
Comments () | Archives (16)

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Dude...ooh the memories , GREAT stuff. Big game James, btw where's his STATUE?

Is Kareem rush even playing anymore? Europe? Russia? YMCA?

@MCLYNE … Thanks for your response. We need to give Mike Brown a chance to show us what he meant. I’ve always hated how hard Kobe has to work for his shots compared to other superstars in the league. Designing plays to get him easy shots could extend his career by years.

The other aspect I am excited about is Mike Brown using Kobe better on defense, not only putting an end to the free lancing but challenging Kobe to really earn that first team all-NBA status through his play. I find it ironic that we constantly talk about how our biggest problem is perimeter defense while we also have one of the top perimeter defenders in the game in Kobe Bryant. While we don’t want him chasing Ray Allen around screens, Kobe has shown he can stay in front of guys like Rondo and Westbrook. It should be interesting to see how Mike wants to use Kobe on the defensive end.
…………………………………………
TOM

I remember them all well, but that 1985 game is the one that I think of the most because it the was finals and the Lakers were out to avenge the 84 loss...and got absolutely smoked in game 1. Of course, the memory isn't so painful since the Lakers came back and won 4 of the next 5 and Kareem won finals MVP at 38 years old (JKidd here's your chance to match Kareem).

How strange is it for the NBA not to have any games Memorial weekend? I can't ever remember that happening in the last 30 years.

@Cyber – congrats on the Friedman.

@latopia/hrmhed – I guess now we can officially put an end to Interviewgate. lol. (latopia - you've earned your detective stripes...lol)

@LRob2

"How strange is it for the NBA not to have any games Memorial weekend? I can't ever remember that happening in the last 30 years."

IT SHOWS HOW WEAK THE LEAGUE HAS BECOME. TEAMS GETTING SWEPT, SERIES ONLY GOING 5 GAMES NOW. PLAYOFFS NOT AS TOUGH AS IT USE TO BE.

@LakerTom

Glad to be of service. I too agree that it would be nice to see Kobe getting back to that spot where he took pride in his D. Remember the kind of hounding D he played during the three peat run? The guy was so tenacious and I'm sure anyone being guarded by him during that time really got sick of his face.

I'm actually really looking forward to the changes in Lakerland and what this team will look like come game one. I just hope that this lockout can be avoided at the last second. I really don't want to wait all the way until January to watch the opening game.

I hope this horrible NBA season dies quickly. Basketball isn't what it use to be. Miami basically stacked the deck just to win championships. It may or may not be fair, but that isn't the issue. What Miami did was to effectively killed the competition by luring all the top players onto one team. Well, of course that team is going to keep winning it all. But how fun is that for us fans?

The league is only comprised of a very few teams whom you expect to compete for the championships, and a boatload of mediocre teams you know can't beat the elites. If Miami wins it all, then I predict the NBA will take a huge dip in viewership. Not only do most people hate Miami/Lebron, but they hate a non-competitive NBA league where you can pretty much predict the outcome for the next few seasons.

These are dark days for the NBA, and if Miami wins, the league may never fully recover...

@Lrob2 - well someone's got to police the media in this town. They have lost their ever loving minds!

@troy - the Bulls dominated for a decade in the 90's - great ratings. MJ was not loved by all.

I look forward to Kobe accepting the challenge and staring down LBJ for three more years. Should that happen in the finals will the Lakers have an advantage because Brown use to coach lbj? Was Buss thinking about that when he hired Brown?? Jimmy you mad genius!!

I'll only watch some of the games in the finals b/c lakers out and too busy. But I have DVRed the game tomorrow because on ABC right before the finals games does a montage of prior finals moments set to cool music. Interested in seeing what they used from last year. I'm thinking Kobe on the scorer's table with 5 fingers out.

Dip in viewership? Do you guys read? The nba is having historic large audience even surpassing the jordan era. Everyone wants to see THE KING STRIKES BACK. Last year kobe's media interaction was poor with his 3 words or less answers. I think lbj is about to show the world that you can be great have fun and not have to constantly scowl like the mamba.

Dwight says his first choice is to stay in Orlando…

Excerpt

“I want to start my own path and I want people to follow my path and not just follow somebody else's path. I want to have my own path, and I want to start that here in Orlando. But I can't do it alone. Not only do I need the right teammates, but I need the city behind me. That's the only way it's going to get done. We can change this small city that we have -- this small market that we have -- and we can make it a big market."

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=6609008
----------------------------------
Memo to Dwight - your GM has not done a good job of getting the right teammates. The mid-season trades were a disaster. Losing Gortat…not good. Now your team has 72 million in salaries next season and even higher in 2013. 60 million of that is on 5 players (Howard, Arenas, Turkoglu, Reddick and Nelson). Can’t see your team advancing past the Bulls or Heat as it’s currently constructed. Plus the Celtics will still be tough, the Knicks will improve and the Hawks just spanked you. Come west young man!

@Gunner - I was disappointed that a lot of the series were so short...but they were still exciting. Oh well hopefully this year is just an abberation.

@troy - Ratings will be strong. People love to watch teams they love and hate.


@Hmrhed - I love the intro to showcasing many of the previous champions. My favorite is Kareem pumping his fist after securing the chip in the famed Boston garden.

Gunner,

Are you really going to play with me? Really?

Let's go!

you wrote: @hobbitmage

"if you piss of your prime talent and he decides not to perform, who wins?"

MANAGEMENT WINS BECAUSE THEY SHOW OTHER PLAYERS THAT NO ONE (EVEN OLD MAN KOBE) IS ABOVE THE MANAGEMENT. PLUS, KOBE IS PASS PRIME. THIS IS BYNUM TIME TO SHOW. ROLE REVERSAL (ala Shaq force out by Kobe 2004)


my response:

1st. You have been missing in action since the Lakers started winning with
Kobe as the lead man and Pau as #2. Why? Is it because all of your venom
was irrelevant because the Lakers were winning?

2nd. re: management winning. Um ... no. Why management doesn't win?
They're on the hook for ~ 30 million dollars. If you had been paying attention
you'd know this. Let me go one step further because you can't reason your
way out of a paper bag. The Lakers have *THE MOST EXPENSIVE PAYROLL
IN THE NBA." That means that if they don't reach the Western Conference
finals they lose money for the season. So ... to put a bow on this, because
your eyes are sewed shut. If management doesn't work WITH the players
the contracts of the Lakers must still be paid. The Lakers stand to lose
10's of millions of dollars if the players don't do well. Therefore, it is imperative
that the Lakers & coach & management are on the same page.

3rd. Have you seen the contracts? Who are the Lakers going to get & will
it make them more competitive? Good Luck trading D-Fish, & Artest. It's
not clear that you can trade Kobe. I believe the phrase is "No Trade clause".

4th. If management doesn't put a good product out on the floor, nobody
goes to the games and then the Lakers won't be making any money. See
#2.

you wrote: RIGHT, COACH & PLAYERS. NOT COACH & KOBE. MOST OF THE TIME ALL PLAYERS BUT KOBE IS ON THE SAME PAGE. THE PROBLEM IS KOBE VEER TO HIS OWN ASSIGNMENT IS WHAT CAUSES THE PROBLEMS. FORCING KOBE TO DO SOMETHING HE DOESN'T LIKE? HE EITHER COMPLY OR ACCEPT ANOTHER 4-0 SWEEP NEXT YEAR.

my response: This is just weak. Friggin' weak.

"Looking back on it, we should have contacted Kobe," Buss says. "Kobe said it was management's job to pick a coach. He just said, 'Defense first.' That's what we were doing, but we should have reached out to him."

"The way Mike impressed the three of us, I would think Kobe would be impressed as well," he says. "Mike is a workaholic and Kobe is the workaholic."

If Brown couldn't control LeBron James on offense, how is he going to do so with Kobe?

"I've seen Kobe go off the place a few times, but I'm sure the coach will know how to handle it," Buss says. "My dad loves Kobe and so do I; we think he has a lot left. And I know Mike has some ideas on how to elongate Kobe's career."

finally you wrote: ONCE AGAIN, WHEN ONE CAN'T ARGUE FACTS, ONE TRIES TO ATTACK.

my response: hmmm ... I just gave you a bunch of facts. I guess I can argue
facts. However, this isn't an attack. Given your lack of reasoning & lack of
research, I'm certain you'll give me a *REAL* reason to attack you.

Calling you a bozo is merely me telling the truth. Like saying that you
disappeared when Kobe was winning championships, because it's not about
the Lakers winning for you. It's just about being negative about Kobe.

Here's $$ on the table: I guarantee if the Lakers do well next year and win,
you'll disappear just like you did 3 years ago. Because you're not a Lakers' fan.
You're just a sorry clown who wants to bash Kobe.

@hobbitmage

"1st. You have been missing in action since the Lakers started winning with
Kobe as the lead man and Pau as #2. Why? Is it because all of your venom
was irrelevant because the Lakers were winning?"

YAWN..........AS CHARLIE MURPHY QUOTED WHEN TALKING ABOUT HIS ENCOUNTER WITH RICK JAMES, "WRONG!, WRONG!"

GO BACK AND LOOK AT MY POSTS OVER THOSE 3 YEARS WHEN ONE PRIME KOBE WAS PLAYING SOMEWHAT LIKE A LEADER. I GAVE HIM HIS PROPS. I THINK IT WAS YOUR WIPERS THAT HAD YOU BLINDED BY ALL YOUR APOLOGISTS POSTS.

2nd. re: management winning. Um ... no. Why management doesn't win?
They're on the hook for ~ 30 million dollars. If you had been paying attention
you'd know this. Let me go one step further because you can't reason your
way out of a paper bag. The Lakers have *THE MOST EXPENSIVE PAYROLL
IN THE NBA."

I BLAME THAT ON THE NOW, OLD MAN KOBE. HOW ABOUT KOBE SAYING, LET ME RESTRUCTURE MY CONTRACT BEFORE SIGNING AN EXTENSION BECAUSE I'M NOT PLAYING LIKE A PLAYER WHO MAKES $24 MILLION AT THIS STAGE IN MY CAREER. $24 MILLION IS WHAT GOT THE LAKERS IN CAP HELL.


"4th. If management doesn't put a good product out on the floor, nobody
goes to the games and then the Lakers won't be making any money. See
#2."

HAVE YOU SEEN THE PRICES OF TICKETS THESE DAYS? CAN YOU CLEARLY SAY THE LAKERS GAVE A GOOD PRODUCT ON THE FLOOR THIS PAST SEASON. NOT EVEN COUNTING THE PLAYOFFS? I DON'T THINK SO.

"Here's $$ on the table: I guarantee if the Lakers do well next year and win,
you'll disappear just like you did 3 years ago. Because you're not a Lakers' fan.
You're just a sorry clown who wants to bash Kobe."

HERE'S $$ ON THE TABLE: I GUARANTEE YOU WHEN THE AGING KOBE RETIRES YOU'LL DISAPPEAR LIKE ALL THE OTHER APOLOGISTS BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT A LAKER FAN. YOU'RE A KOBE APOLOGISTS.

AND BELIEVE ME ALL THIS HYPE ABOUT GETTING STRONGER THIS OFFSEASON IS ASININE. JUST LIKE TREVOR BERBICK SAYING HE'S OK WHILE STAGGERING ALL OVER THE RING FROM A TYSON KNOCKOUT.

NICE CHAT AND KEEP UP THE ATTACKS.

GET YOUR POPCORN READY TO WATCH THE KING!

@hobbitmage

just thought I would finish with what the great Chris Berman would say when hearing the Old Man Kobe say, "I Eat First"

C'MON MAN!


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