On this date: Lakers score controversial win over Kings in 2002 WCF

The 2002 Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings was an epic battle that featured plenty of star power on both sides.

Los Angeles boasted Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, while the Kings had superstar Chris Webber and a very deep cast around him.

With two underwhelming teams, the Boston Celtics and the New Jersey Nets, playing in the Eastern Conference finals, the Lakers-Kings matchup was regarded as the real championship series that year.

Sacramento took a 3-2 lead into Game 6 at Staples Center, but it would have to finish an awakened and determined Lakers team.

O’Neal had, by far, his best game of the series with 41 points and 17 rebounds after playing subpar ball through the first four contests. Bryant had 31 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Although the Lakers won 106-102, the game was marred by controversy, and many non-Lakers fans still see it as an illegitimate win 20 years later. The reason is that there were some bad calls in the game, most of which favored Los Angeles.

Interestingly, at the end of Game 5, which L.A. lost by one point, there were three non-calls that should’ve perhaps gone in the Lakers’ favor. There was a ball that went out of bounds, a possible illegal screen by Webber and a possible foul by Kings guard Bobby Jackson on the final possession when Bryant missed what would’ve been the game-winner.

In the end, the Lakers tied the series with an inspiring performance, forcing a winner-take-all Game 7 in the capital of California.


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