Now with basketball back in action, Laker Nation has decided to continue to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise.
DECEMBER 28, 1979
BOSTON CELTICS 105 – LA LAKERS 123
MAGIC OUTSCORES BIRD IN FIRST ROOKIE BATTLE BETWEEN LAKERS AND CELTICS
Magic and Bird. Lakers and Celtics. One of the most iconic rivalries in professional sports, one that started back during their college days at Michigan State and Indiana State, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird controlled eight of the 10 NBA titles during the 1980s between their respective teams. 32 years ago today, that rivalry between east coast and west coast, Lakers and Celtics, was renewed.
While the focus of the game was surely the scoring match-up between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the Lakers success stemmed from their defense. The Lakers, who led by eight at halftime, would never be threatened for the lead by the Celtics, as they would increase their lead to 14 points during the third quarter and never dip back to less than eight points before the final buzzer. Against the defensively-specialized Celtics, the Lakers would score 61 first-half points, shooting 13 less shots during the game than the Celtics, but making two more overall.Laker forward Jamaal Wilkes, who would guard Larry Bird, would hold the rookie to 16 points. Bird, getting frustrated near the end of the game by celebrating between Magic Johnson and Spencer Haywood, would throw an elbow at Johnson as he Johnson came across the key. Instead of fighting, Johnson would walk away. Magic, who would blow up in the fourth quarter, would finish with 23 points and six assists, as five other Lakers would finish in double-digits, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who would also chip in with 18 rebounds. The Lakers would defeat the Celtics 123-105, moving to 27-13 on the season and an even more impressive 18-3 at The Forum.
Quote of the Night: “Although we scored over 120 points, and shot the eyes out of the basket, the difference clearly tonight was our defense…It was our best defensive effort of the year and when the team got going the defense just became contagious.” – Former Laker coach Paul Westhead on his team’s performance against the NBA-best Boston Celtics. - From the LA Times, Dec. 29, 1979