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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Magical ending lifts Lakers past Celtics
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

June 9, 1987

The two players who led the NBA resurgence in the '80s are right where they want to be in the closing stages of Game 4 of the Finals: with the ball in their hands.

Trailing by one with 12 seconds left, Larry Bird drills a 3-point shot from the left corner to give the Celtics a 106-104 lead in Boston Garden. Then it's Magic Johnson's turn. With the Lakers down one after a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar foul shot, Magic calmly moves from left to right across the key and sinks a "junior, junior sky hook," he says. His running 12-foot shot gives Los Angeles a 107-106 edge with two seconds left.

"The release felt pretty good," Magic says. "But I never watched it. I'll have to see it some other time."

Bird has one more shot. Somehow, the Lakers leave him free and Bird has an eminently makeable shot from the left baseline. The ball hits the rim and bounds away. "I was floating to the left when I took it," Bird says, "but I was sure I was on target."

The victory gives the Lakers a 3-1 lead. They will win the title in six games.

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