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1988 NBA Finals
1988 NBA Finals.PNG
Team Coach Wins
Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 4
Detroit Pistons Chuck Daly 3
Dates: June 7 - June 21
MVP: James Worthy
(Los Angeles Lakers)
Television: CBS (U.S.)
Announcers: Dick Stockton and Billy Cunningham
Game 1:
Game 2:
Game 3:
Game 4:
Game 5: Game 5:
Game 6: Hugh Evans and Ed T. Rush
Game 7: Jake O'Donnell and Earl Strom
Hall of Famers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1995)
Adrian Dantley (2008)
Joe Dumars (2006)
Magic Johnson (2002)
Isiah Thomas (2000)
James Worthy (2003)
Chuck Daly (1994)
Pat Riley (2008)
Eastern Finals: Pistons defeat Celtics, 4-2
Western Finals: Lakers defeat Mavericks, 4-3
 < 1987 NBA Finals 1989 > 

The 1988 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1987–88 NBA season.

One of Los Angeles Lakers head coach Pat Riley's most famous moments came when he promised the crowd a repeat championship during the Lakers' 1986-87 championship parade in downtown Los Angeles. With every team in the league now gunning for them, the Los Angeles Lakers still found a way to win, taking their seventh consecutive Pacific Division title. While the 1988 Lakers did not produce as many wins in the regular season as the 1987 Lakers, they were just as successful in the playoffs, becoming the first team in 20 years to repeat as champions. The Lakers met the physical Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals.

One of Piston guard Isiah Thomas' career-defining performances came in Game 6. Despite badly twisting his ankle midway through the period, Thomas scored a still-NBA Finals record 25 third quarter points, as Detroit fell valiantly, 103-102, to the Lakers at the Forum.

Thomas was still hot enough to pump in 10 first half points in Game 7, as Detroit built a 5 point lead. In the 3rd quarter, the Lakers, inspired by Finals MVP James Worthy and Byron Scott (14 3rd quarter points), exploded as they built a 10-point lead entering the final period. The lead swelled to 15 before Detroit mounted a furious 4th-quarter rally, trimming the lead to 2-points on several occasions. Still several Detroit miscues enabled the Lakers to escape with a 108-105 victory.


Series summary


Game 1

The Pistons had just dispatched the Celtics in six games, while the Lakers were coming off back-to-back seven-game wins over the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers were tired, and it showed. Adrian Dantley scored 34 points, hitting 14 of 16 shots from the field. The Pistons took control of the game with six seconds left in the first half when Bill Laimbeer hit a three-point shot to put the Pistons up 54-40. Isiah Thomas then stole an inbound pass at halfcourt and let fly with another three-pointer which hit nothing but net at the halftime buzzer. The Pistons had a 57-40 halftime lead and never looked back, stealing Game 1 with a 105-93 win.

Game 2

Facing the possibility of going down 2-0 with three games to play in Detroit, the veteran Lakers found resolve with a 108-96 win. James Worthy led the Lakers with 26 points, Byron Scott had 24, and Magic Johnson 23 despite battling the flu.

Game 3

With Magic still battling the flu, the Lakers got a key win in Detroit, 99-86, to go up 2-1 in games. The Lakers took control of the game in the third period, outscoring the Pistons 31-14. Despite his illness, Magic had 18 points, 14 assists, and six rebounds.

Game 4

With pride in front of their home fans, the Pistons tied the series at 2-2 with a 111-86 blowout win. The Pistons decided to attack the basket and make Magic Johnson defend. Johnson wound up on the bench early in the second half with foul trouble.

With Magic out of the game, the Pistons built a substantial lead. During timeouts, Bill Laimbeer was almost frantic. He kept saying, "No letup! We don't let up!" They didn't, and blew out the defending NBA champions by 25 points.

Left open by the trapping Lakers defense, Dantley led the team with 27 points. Vinnie Johnson came off the bench to add 16 while James Edwards had 14 points and five rebounds off the bench.

Game 5

The Pistons' 104-94 victory was a perfect farewell to the Pontiac Silverdome. Bill Laimbeer told Joe Dumars with a minute left in the game to "look around and enjoy this because you'll never see anything like it again". He went on to say, "Forty-one thousand people waving towels and standing. It was awesome."

The Lakers opened Game 5 with a fury of physical intimidation, scoring the game's first 12 points. But that approach soon backfired, as the Laker big men got into foul trouble.

Dantley played a major role in the turnaround, scoring 25 points, 19 of them in the first half, to rally the Pistons to a 59-50 halftime lead. Vinnie Johnson added 12 of his 16 points in the first half to keep Detroit moving.

Joe Dumars added 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting to send the Pistons back to Los Angeles, one win away from their first NBA title.

Games 3, 4, and 5 were the last NBA Finals games to be contested in a domed stadium built primairly for football until the 1999 NBA Finals in which Games 1 and 2 were played at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The Pistons left the Pontiac Silverdome after the 1987-88 season and moved into The Palace of Auburn Hills for the 1988-89 NBA season.

Game 6

This game turned out to be a classic confrontation between a team hungry for their first title (Detroit) and a veteran team on a mission with their backs to the wall (the Lakers).

The Lakers led 56-48 in the third quarter when Isiah Thomas suddenly began a classic performance. He scored the game's next 14 points, hitting two free throws, a driving layup, four jump shots, and a running bank shot.

On the Pistons' next possession, Thomas stepped on Michael Cooper's foot, rolled his ankle, and had to be helped from the floor. Despite a severe sprain, Thomas returned to the game 35 seconds later and continued his dizzying onslaught. By the end of the third quarter, Thomas had scored 25 points, an NBA Finals record for one quarter, on 11-of-13 shooting. Even better, the Pistons had a 81-79 lead.

The Pistons' momentum carried into the final period as they led 102-99 with a minute left. Byron Scott cut the lead to one with a 14-footer in the lane with 52 seconds remaining. The Lakers then turned up the defense on the Pistons' next possession, forcing Thomas into a desperation 18-footer. 41-year old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar then got the ball on the Lakers' trip down the floor and posted up Bill Laimbeer for his signature skyhook. As Kareem shot, Laimbeer was whistled for a controversial foul, as TV replays seemed to indicate there was no contact. Jabbar then coolly sank the two free thows to put the Lakers up 103-102. Joe Dumars badly missed a mid-range jumper at the buzzer.

Thomas would end up with 43 points and eight assists in a heroic performance.

Game 7

This was the first Game 7 since the NBA adopted the 2-3-2 format in 1985 and first overall since 1984.

In the final game, Thomas' ankle was still sore, as evidenced by his limping badly in warm-ups. He did manage to play the first half, scoring 10 points and leading the Pistons to a 52-47 halftime lead. But, the delay between halves caused the ankle to stiffen, and Thomas played little in the second half. With Isiah on the bench, the Lakers turned the halftime deficit into a 90-75 lead late in the 4th quarter.

Chuck Daly then went to a faster lineup with Dennis Rodman, John Salley, Joe Dumars, and Vinnie Johnson that created matchup problems for the Lakers and enabled the Pistons to score at a torrid pace. With 3:52 left, Salley canned two free throws to cut the Laker lead to 98-92, sending the Forum fans into a panic.

With 1:17 left, Dumars hit a jump shot to cut the lead to 102-100. Magic Johnson then hit a free throw after a Rodman foul to put the Lakers up by three. On the Pistons' next trip down the floor, Rodman took an ill-advised jumper with 39 seconds left. Byron Scott rebounded and was fouled. His two free throws pushed the lead to 105-100.

After Dumars made a layup, James Worthy hit a free throw and Bill Laimbeer canned a 28-foot three-pointer, pushing the score to 106-105 with six seconds showing. A. C. Green completed the scoring with a layup off a length-of-the court pass from Magic, making it 108-105. The Pistons got the ball to Thomas at midcourt with seconds remaining as fans began to enter the court, and Thomas was knocked to the ground by Magic Johnson, who began celebrating with 2 seconds left on the clock. Thomas was unable to get off a shot, no foul was called, the referees ignored the fact that fans were on the floor before time expired, and the game was over. Pat Riley and the Laker players hurried back to their dressing room.

Worthy racked up a monster triple-double: 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. For that and his earlier efforts in the series, he was named the Finals MVP, cementing his nickname "Big Game James".

Michael Cooper, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only members of all 5 Lakers championship teams from the 1980s.

Quote of the Finals

The game ends! The Lakers have won it...again!!!
CBS Sports announcer Dick Stockton calling the final moments of Game 7.
The game is over! The Lakers are the world champions!!!
Lakers announcer Chick Hearn calling the same moment as Stockton above.

Team rosters

Television coverage

The Detroit Pistons season documentary "Bad Boys", narrated by George Blaha recaps Detroit's run to the Finals and how they garnered the "Bad Boys" moniker while the Los Angeles Lakers documentary "Back To Back", narrated by Chick Hearn recaps the Lakers quest to become the first team since the Bill Russell-led Celtics to achieve NBA championships in consecutive years.

That year, CBS Sports used three sideline reporters which were Pat O'Brien (the Pistons' sideline), Lesley Visser (the Lakers' sideline) and James Brown (both teams).

See also

External links


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