2001 NBA Finals
The 2001 NBA Finals was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 2000–01 season. The defending NBA champion and Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers took on the Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers for the championship, with the Lakers holding home-court advantage in a best-of-seven format.
NBA MVP Allen Iverson scored 48 points in his only NBA Finals victory, as the 76ers took Game 1 107–101 in overtime, handing the Lakers their only loss of the playoffs. However, the Lakers went on to win the next four games, despite being out-shot and out-rebounded in the series. Los Angeles punished Philadelphia with their three-point shooting, which was the key to this series. In Game 3 Robert Horry hit a three-point shot in the last minute, and in the next two games the Lakers used hot 3-point shooting to build big leads and hold off late 76ers comeback attempts in games 4 and 5, pulling away for double-digit wins to win the title.
The Los Angeles Lakers entered the 2000–01 NBA season as the defending NBA champions. The club lost a few players to free agency, but they signed veteran players like Isaiah Rider and Horace Grant. The Lakers began the season struggling on and off the court, as they were losing games at the beginning with the Shaq–Kobe feud. Injuries also riddled the team as they struggled through the season. But by April 1, 2001, the Lakers last loss was to the New York Knicks and they never looked back as the team closed out the season on an eight-game winning streak, thus finishing the season 56-26 and closing out as the number 2 seed in the West behind the San Antonio Spurs.
The Lakers began the 2001 NBA Playoffs versus the team against whom they played the previous year in the Western Conference finals, the Portland Trail Blazers. The Trail Blazers were a team that struggled throughout the season but battled back to claim the 7th seed. The series wasn't close, as the Lakers swept the Trail Blazers by double digits in all three games. In the semifinals the Lakers took on the Sacramento Kings, a team who had also given the Lakers a tough series the previous season, but the Lakers took two close games at home and went to Sacramento to finish the Kings off with a 4–0 sweep as well. In the conference finals the Lakers went up against the number 1 seed San Antonio Spurs, who were expected to be more competitive than the Lakers' previous opponents. But the Lakers took games 1 and 2 in San Antonio, and then blew them out in games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles in another complete sweep as they became the second team in NBA history to sweep the conference playoffs at 11–0, the 1988-1989 Los Angeles Lakers being the first.
But the Lakers met a snag on their quest to the first NBA sweep in playoff history as they went up against Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers, seeded number 1 in the Eastern Conference, had just come out of two straight seven-game series against the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks. During the first game, the trio of Iverson, Dikembe Mutombo and Eric Snow, coming hot off a long Eastern Conference championship road, beat the Lakers in overtime, showcasing their endurance.
The Lakers then took Game 2. Afterwards, Kobe Bryant ball quoted as saying he was coming to Philadelphia to cut their hearts out. The Sixers dropped all three games in Philadelphia, giving the Lakers their second straight championship.
Road to the Finals
Regular season series
Both teams split the two meetings, each won by the home team:
February 14, 2001
|Los Angeles Lakers 97, Philadelphia 76ers 112|
2001 NBA Finals rosters
Los Angeles Lakers
|2000–01 Los Angeles Lakers roster|
|2000–01 Philadelphia 76ers roster|
|Philadelphia 76ers 107, Los Angeles Lakers 101 (OT)|
|Scoring by quarter: 22–23, 34–27, 23–27, 15–17, Overtime: 13–7|
|Pts: Allen Iverson 48|
Rebs: Dikembe Mutombo 16
Asts: Aaron McKie 9
|Pts: Shaquille O'Neal 44|
Rebs: Shaquille O'Neal 20
Asts: Kobe Bryant, Rick Fox, Shaquille O'Neal 5 each
|Philadelphia leads the series, 1–0|
The Lakers dominated early, in what looked like to be their fourth series sweep. Scoring 16 straight points, the Lakers took a 21–9 lead over the Allen Iverson-led 76ers. Despite this major lead, Allen Iverson began dominating at the half of the 2nd quarter scoring 30 first half points. The 76ers turned the game around and even went up by 15 points during the third quarter before the Lakers started a comeback. Shaquille O'Neal was a major factor in the comeback, scoring 18 points in the quarter.
The Lakers played fantastically during the 4th quarter, and Tyronn Lue came off the bench and limited Allen Iverson to merely 3 points and had 3 assists and 2 steals of his own. The game was eventually tied at 94, and when Dikembe Mutombo missed two free throws and Eric Snow's desperation three-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim, the game went to overtime.
The Lakers dominated for the first half of the overtime, scoring 5 points, Raja Bell then hit a tough layup to answer followed by Allen Iverson scoring 7 straight points, including a three pointer to give them the lead followed by and step back 2-pointer over Tyronn Lue which is famously known as he stepped over Lue after hitting the shot. The 76ers finished up with a 6 point win to take the first game of the series.
|Philadelphia 76ers 89, Los Angeles Lakers 98|
|Scoring by quarter: 24–25, 23–24, 20–28, 22–21|
|Pts: Allen Iverson 23|
Rebs: Dikembe Mutombo 13
Asts: Aaron McKie 6
|Pts: Kobe Bryant 31|
Rebs: Shaquille O'Neal 20
Asts: Shaquille O'Neal 9
|Series tied, 1–1|
Kobe Bryant started off the game with 12 points in the first quarter, while Shaq scored 12 points in the second quarter. Despite their points, the 76ers kept a close lead as Larry Brown ran over 10 plays searching for the right quartet, and the fact that all the Lakers besides Bryant and O'Neal were shooting only at 27%. The Sixers were down by 13 in the fourth quarter, and were making a comeback due to Shaq sitting out with 5 fouls, which helped the 76ers to score 7 straight. Even though the 76ers were within 3 points of the Lakers, the 6 of 16 foul shooting in the fourth quarter put them behind permanently. O'Neal finished with 28 points, 20 rebounds, nine assists, and eight blocks, coming close to a quadruple double. Before the game, Lakers coach Phil Jackson had growled at O'Neal, "Don't be afraid to block a shot!" after O'Neal failed to block a shot in Game 1.
|Los Angeles Lakers 96, Philadelphia 76ers 91|
|Scoring by quarter: 25–25, 30–20, 18–21, 23–25|
|Pts: Kobe Bryant 32|
Rebs: Shaquille O'Neal 12
Asts: Bryant, Horry,
O'Neal, Shaw 3 each
|Pts: Allen Iverson 35|
Rebs: Iverson, Mutombo 12 each
Asts: Aaron McKie 8
|Los Angeles leads the series, 2–1|
|Los Angeles Lakers 100, Philadelphia 76ers 86|
|Scoring by quarter: 22–14, 29–23, 26–22, 23–27|
|Pts: Shaquille O'Neal 34|
Rebs: Shaquille O'Neal 14
Asts: Kobe Bryant 9
|Pts: Allen Iverson 35|
Rebs: Dikembe Mutombo 9
Asts: Iverson, Snow 4 each
|Los Angeles leads the series, 3–1|
|Los Angeles Lakers 108, Philadelphia 76ers 96|
|Scoring by quarter: 24–27, 28–21, 31–20, 25–28|
|Pts: Shaquille O'Neal 29|
Rebs: Shaquille O'Neal 13
Asts: Bryant, Fox 6 each
|Pts: Allen Iverson 37|
Rebs: Tyrone Hill 13
Asts: Eric Snow 12
|Los Angeles wins the series, 4–1|
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Philadelphia 76ers
The 2001 NBA Finals was aired in the United States on NBC, with Marv Albert and Doug Collins on play-by-play and color commentary respectively. Albert, who last worked the Finals for NBC Sports in 1997, had been rehired by the network in 1999, two years after a sex scandal led to his dismissal. Albert also began working for TNT during this period, a role he continues today. Collins departed NBC following the series to serve as head coach of the Washington Wizards.
Ahmad Rashād served as the studio host in place of Hannah Storm, who took a maternity leave during the finals. Kevin Johnson and P. J. Carlesimo served as studio analysts, while Lewis Johnson and Jim Gray served as sideline reporters.
The Lakers won their third straight championship in a four-game sweep of the New Jersey Nets the following year. The Lakers won 58 games in the season, then defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in three games, the San Antonio Spurs in five games, and the Sacramento Kings in seven games before sweeping the Nets in the Finals.
As of the 2018–19 season[update], the series remains the 76ers’ last NBA Finals appearance. The Sixers would win only 43 games in the 2001-02 NBA season, as injuries were the story of their season. Nevertheless, they made the playoffs as the sixth seed, but were defeated by the Boston Celtics in five games. The Celtics themselves came within two games of returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1987, but were ousted by the upstart Nets, who made the NBA Finals for the first time, denying a possible Celtics-Lakers final. As for the Sixers, they would never challenge for the title again in the Allen Iverson era, with the team reaching the playoffs only twice for the next four years, winning only one series.
- "Official website". Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2007-05-27.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- ""Take Two for Tinseltown"". Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2008-05-17.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) entry about Finals at NBA Encyclopedia
- 2001 NBA Finals at basketball-reference.com