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1982 NBA Season – Redemption

August 31, 2013

dr--j-jams-the-jinx-lrg erving over bird

The 76ers were looking to get back at the Celtics for beating them in 1981 *photos courtesy of Inside Hoops and reddit

Both of the teams that made the NBA Finals in 1982 were reeling from crushing losses in 1981.  The Philadelphia 76ers had a 3-1 lead against Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.  If they’d have won, they’d have played 40-42 Houston in the Finals.  So there is a good chance that they lost out on their best chance to give Dr. J an NBA Championship.  Instead, Boston won the final three games by a combined 5 points and went on to beat Houston themselves.

Speaking of Houston, their first shocker of the playoffs came against the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers.  Magic Johnson had missed 45 games and the team didn’t jell when he came back and ended up being a bit disjointed against Houston and losing the all-or-nothing Game 3 at the Forum.  Early in 1982, Magic had been unhappy with coach Paul Westhead’s system and wanted to be traded.  Instead, Lakers owner Jerry Buss fired Westhead and promoted assistant coach Pat Riley.  Riley’s Lakers ran off a 24-8 record heading into the All-Star break and Riley got to coach the West.

At the break, the standings looked more like they did in 1980 where Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle and Philadelphia had the best 4 records in the league.  Seattle ended up rebounding the most from 1981 where Lonnie Shelton missed the season with an injury and Gus Williams missed the season holding out for a new contract.  Both were back this season and were starters in the All-Star Game.  Seattle, however after winning 52 games, would lose to San Antonio in the West Semifinals after defeating defending-West champion Houston in the mini-series.

The All-Star Game for this season was in East Rutherford, New Jersey and featured three prominent rookies, including the Nets own Buck Williams.

January 31, 1982 – NBA All-Star Game @ New Jersey: East 120, West 118

It started off fast as it usually does in an All-Star Game.  George Gervin’s first shot from the baseline bounced in.  Julius Erving got an offensive rebound and banked one in.  Shelton got an offensive rebound and hit a jumper in the lane.  Larry Bird faked a defender at the top of the key and drove in for a layup.  The only rookie starter Isiah Thomas got involved in a big way early as well.  He found Sidney Moncrief on the break for a layup and it was 6-4 East.  Then after Bird hit a long jumper from the wing (with his foot on the line) and Shelton hit a face-up jumper over Bird, Isiah got a handoff from Julius Erving and drove baseline for a double-pump layup.  Then he got a steal and Bird got a breakaway slam.  The East led 12-6.

Isiah got another field goal before going to the free throw line for the first time.  The 20-year-old airballed the first shot.  But he made the second and all was well except for the ribbing.  Then Magic came into the game (one would think Magic would start but remember the fans decide the starters and Magic wasn’t too popular with fans in 1982 after the belief that he got Westhead fired.. this was personified by Magic getting mostly booed during his introduction in this all-star game) and got four points and an assist to tie the game at 20.  The West got out on the break and this got Bernard King some transition baskets (this was when Bernard was still with Golden State.. he would be traded to New York in the off-season for Michael Ray Richardson).  Magic then got a three-point play after he took it himself and finished on the break.  This gave the West a five-point lead that they would hold going into the 2nd quarter, leading 39-34.

The West also got the first two buckets of the 2nd quarter as Jack Sikma got a steal and Gus Williams got a breakaway.  Then Dennis Johnson fed Alex English for a layup and the West had a nine-point lead.  The East came back with a 10-2 run though led by Erving, Tiny Archibald and Robert Parish.  Parish started it with a jumper from the free throw line, then Tiny found Erving for a layup.  After Gus Williams hit two free throws, Parish outletted to Dr. J for a slam.  Then Tiny wrapped a pass around Kareem to Parish for a jumper and then hit Erving for a reverse on the break.  While this run was going on, Kareem missed three shots and was probably having the worst game of his career at that point (Kareem was never a fan of the All-Star Game) going 0-for-7 from the field.  He then committed his 3rd foul and Parish hit two free throws.

This gave the East the lead at 46-45 and started the game going back-and-forth.  Gus found Moses Malone for a slam.  Isiah hit a banker in the lane after an offensive rebound.  Gus Williams came off a Shelton screen and hit from the top of the key.  Parish hit a jumper in the lane.  Then Bird found Parish for a layup and then outletted to Isiah for a breakaway.  Then Isiah fed Detroit teammate and the third rookie in the game, Kelly Tripucka, for a layup on a 3-on-2.  Then Isiah fed Parish on a 3-on-1.  When the dust settled the East had a 58-49 lead.  But the West came back before the half.  Gus and Adrian Dantley got breakaways on long passes from Gervin and Magic, respectively.  Then a Moses offensive rebound, stick-back and a foul cut the lead to 63-61 at the half.

The West started some of their bench in the 2nd half and Norm Nixon got eight quick points to give the West a 71-68 lead.  Erving then went baseline for a two-handed slam and then Michael Ray Richardson found him with an alley-oop.  Richardson scored three straight field goals for the East to give them an 85-82 lead.  But then after the timeout, Magic got a driving layup and Gervin hit from the top of the key.  The East responded as Moncrief found Artis Gilmore for a slam and then Richardson found Buck Williams on the break for a slam.  The quarter ended well for the West though as Gus Williams pick-pocketed Tiny and took it in for a layup with 7 seconds left.  The score was 90-89 East at that point and it held going into the fourth.

The West took a brief lead but the East came back to lead by six after Parish got 5 quick points and Tripucka got a field goal and an assist.  Kareem’s only field goal (and only two points) cut the lead to 105-101.  Then Gus Williams hit a pull-up from the wing to cut it to two.  Bird came off a Tripucka screen at the wing and nailed a jumper.  Gus hit another pull-up at the elbow and then found Dantley on the break to tie the game at 107.  Then Gus found the trailer Sikma on a 3-on-1 and the West had the lead.  Bird hit two free throws and then Sikma scored on a 2nd effort.  Bird then popped out to the top of the key, got a pass from Tiny, and nailed a jumper.  Then on the next East possession, Bird hit another jumper from the top of the key off an inbounds pass.  A Richardson wrap-around pass to Parish for a slam gave the East a 116-113 lead.

Bird then hit a leaning jumper from the elbow and the score was 118-114 East.  Magic then found Gervin at the wing for a jumper.  Magic found Iceman for what looked to be another assist with 1:34 left, but Gervin missed a breakaway layup that would have tied the game.  This would become a theme.  Shelton committed a loose ball foul after Gervin’s missed layup and Bird hit two free throws.  It was Bird’s 12th point of the 4th quarter, a stat that would make him MVP.  Sikma cross-courted a pass to Nixon for a jumper and it was 120-118 East.  But with under a minute left, another West 2-on-1 failed when Nixon missed a layup.  Sikma got the offensive rebound but he ended up missing with 40 seconds left.  Bird got the rebound and the East called timeout with 30 seconds left.  They ran a play for Dr. J but he was called for an offensive foul on a drive with 17 seconds left.

The West worked it around before Gus Williams missed a three.  Magic and Erving were chasing after the rebound and Dr. J ended up knocking it out of bounds with 5 seconds left.  After a timeout, Magic got the ball and drove in but he missed a layup and Parish got the rebound to seal the ballgame.

West starters (teams) and point totals

Adrian Dantley (Utah Jazz) 7 – Small Forward

Lonnie Shelton (Seattle Sonics) 12 – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Los Angeles Lakers) 2 – Center

Gus Williams (Seattle Sonics) 22 – Point Guard

George Gervin (San Antonio Spurs) 12 – Shooting Guard

West bench (teams) and point totals

Bernard King (Golden State Warriors) 6

Norm Nixon (Los Angeles Lakers) 14

Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers) 16

Moses Malone (Houston Rockets) 12

Jack Sikma (Seattle Sonics) 10

Alex English (Denver Nuggets) 4

Dennis Johnson (Phoenix Suns) 1

West Coach: Pat Riley (Los Angeles Lakers)

East starters (teams) and point totals

Larry Bird (Boston Celtics) 19 – Small Forward

Julius Erving (Philadelphia 76ers) 16 – Power Forward

Artis Gilmore (Chicago Bulls) 7 – Center

Nate Archibald (Boston Celtics) 6 – Point Guard

Isiah Thomas (Detroit Pistons) 12 – Shooting Guard

East bench (teams) and point totals

Sidney Moncrief (Milwaukee Bucks) 6

Bob Lanier (Milwaukee Bucks) 8

Michael Ray Richardson (New York Knicks) 10

Bobby Jones (Philadelphia 76ers) 5

Buck Williams (New Jersey Nets) 4

Robert Parish (Boston Celtics) 21

Kelly Tripucka (Detroit Pistons) 6

East Coach: Bill Fitch (Boston Celtics)

May 2, 1982 – West Semifinals, Game 4: Los Angeles Lakers 112 @Phoenix Suns 107

The Lakers grabbed the top seed in the Western Conference and got to play the team that beat them out for the top seed in 1981.  Phoenix had altered its starting lineup a bit as now Walter Davis was coming off the bench.  But their roster remained the same from 1981 with Davis, Dennis Johnson, Truck Robinson and Alvan Adams, among others.

Los Angeles’ big move in the off-season was signing Mitch Kupchak as a free agent from Washington.  The Lakers had to give up two draft picks, as well as Brad Holland and Jim Chones for Kupchak.  And for the first 26 games, Kupchak looked like a major factor in the power forward slot.  Mitch started all of those games and averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game.  But then he tore ligaments in his knee and was out until the 1984 season.

Right after the injury, the Lakers took a gamble and traded for Bob McAdoo.  McAdoo had gained a selfish reputation with New York, Boston, Detroit and New Jersey and perhaps his great scoring days with Buffalo in the mid-70’s were gone.  But McAdoo ended up providing a spark off the bench for the Lakers and revived his career.  The big surprise came from rookie Kurt Rambis, who emerged as the Lakers starting power forward through hustle and determination (literally, because he actually looks like Clark Kent).  Rambis averaged just under 5 points and just over 5 rebounds per game in 1982 and his average wouldn’t get much better in 6 more seasons with the Lakers, but his effort and hustle were just what the doctor ordered for the Lakers.

The rest of the core remained the same with Kareem, Jamaal Wilkes, Norm Nixon, Michael Cooper off the bench, and a determined Magic Johnson who wanted to prove that he wasn’t a selfish player (despite what his contract said) and wanted to win the fans back.  Los Angeles had won 57 games and had continued rolling through the first 3 games against Phoenix, winning three times by margins that weren’t that close.

It looked to be the same in Game 4 when CBS picked it up (after showing the ending of an overtime game between Boston and Washington.. we’ll get to that series next).  Los Angeles was up 30-17 with 2:15 to go in the 1st quarter at the Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.  The Suns got their first points on the break when D.J. found Adams who touch passed to Kyle Macy for a layup.  Then D.J. hit a three-point play and it was 30-22.  But then McAdoo hit a pull-up in the lane and Magic found Cooper in the corner for a jumper after a Walter Davis make.  Then Cooper blocked a shot and Magic tipped it ahead to him for a layup.  L.A. led 36-24 going into the 2nd quarter.

Phoenix then got a spark from their bench as several Lakers starters were getting rest.  Davis and rookie Larry Nance sparked the Suns on both ends of the court.  Davis got a driving layup on the break and Nance got a breakaway slam.  Davis then hit another driving layup after a spin move and Nance got an easy layup inside.  Alvin Scott’s hook in the lane cut the Lakers lead to 38-34 and then Nance found Davis for another breakaway layup.  Phoenix had a chance to tie it but McAdoo blocked a Davis breakaway layup and then Nixon found Wilkes for a pull-up from the wing.  The Lakers kept their slim lead even with D.J. back in the game and getting involved for Phoenix.  The Suns had another chance to lead but this time Rambis blocked a breakaway layup and Kareem finished a 3-on-1 with a slam.  Phoenix never could grab the lead in the first half but had made a game of it, trailing only 57-54 at the half.

After Adams’ driving hook cut the lead to one to start the half, Kareem kicked out to Wilkes for a top of the key jumper and then Magic found Jamaal at the wing for another jumper.  Those two field goals kicked off a 14-4 run that finished with Magic finding Kareem for a layup and a foul.  The Lakers led 71-60.  But then Macy got a long rebound on his own miss and hit a wing jumper.  Then Truck Robinson hit a jumper.  Los Angeles maintained a nine-point lead at 75-66 before Adams hit a left-handed driving hook.  Then Davis hit a jumper from the corner and then a pull-up after a steal.  The lead was down to three and Magic had 4 fouls.  After Davis hit two free throws for his 16th point, D.J. got a steal, pushed the ball and threw a lead pass to Adams.  Alvan was trapped under the basket but got in the air and hit a cutting D.J. for a 76-75 Phoenix lead, their first of the game.  The Suns had a chance to increase it but Rich Kelley missed two free throws.  The lead changed hands for the rest of the quarter before Nance missed two free throws with Phoenix trailing by one and Wilkes hit a driving hook with 15 seconds left in the quarter.  This gave L.A. an 87-84 lead that they would take into the 4th quarter.

Wilkes hit another left-handed driving layup to start the 4th and give him 20 points.  But Phoenix came back as Nance hit a turn-around from the post, then D.J. got a steal and a pull-up in the lane.  Then D.J. hit from the post for his 22nd point and a 90-89 Phoenix lead.  The lead went back-and-forth for awhile again as McAdoo hit an elbow jumper.  Then D.J. found Adams for a slam.  Cooper hit two free throws.  Adams found D.J. in the corner for a jumper.  McAdoo hit a pull-up banker from the wing for his 14th point.  D.J. found Adams for a corner jumper.  Kareem kicked out to Wilkes for a wing jumper.  Then D.J. got a steal and layup for a 98-97 Phoenix lead.  The back-and-forth was broken when D.J.’s two free throws gave Phoenix a three-point lead.

But then the Lakers beat the Suns trapping defense and Kareem hit a hook off the glass and was fouled.  The three-point play tied the game at 100 and gave Kareem 22 points.  Then L.A. came back as Magic scored on an offensive rebound after Nance blocked a Nixon layup and Cooper missed a jumper after retrieving the ball.  Then Magic hit two free throws and Wilkes found him on a 2-on-1 break after a steal.  The Lakers defense had forced many turnovers and had gotten fast breaks throughout the series with their trapping defense that opposing coaches thought was a zone.  This trap provided many stops that finished off this series.  Phoenix called timeout after Magic’s fast break layup with L.A. leading 106-100.  Phoenix had their chances though as Nance hit a jumper from the foul line.  Then the Suns got the ball back but Rich Kelley missed a layup after rebounding D.J.’s miss.

Wilkes then hit a corner jumper and with 1:10 left, D.J. committed his 5th foul and Nixon hit a free throw for a 109-102 lead.  The Suns weren’t done yet as D.J. hit a driving layup and was fouled.  His free throw gave him 31 points and cut the lead to four with 48 seconds left.  After an L.A. miss, D.J. drove down but missed a layup and committed his 6th foul trying to retrieve the ball with 18 seconds left.  D.J. got an ovation from the crowd but this officially provided an end to the Suns’ season.

Los Angeles would go on to play San Antonio in the Western Finals while Phoenix won 53 games in 1983 after acquiring Maurice Lucas for Truck Robinson and James Edwards for Jeff Cook.  But Phoenix lost out in the Pacific Division to the Lakers and then lost in the mini-series to Denver.  After that, D.J. was traded to Boston for Rick Robey.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (24) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (5) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24) – Center

Magic Johnson (15) – Point Guard

Norm Nixon (17) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Michael Cooper (11)

Bob McAdoo (14)

Mark Landsberger (0)

Jim Brewer (2)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

Phoenix starters (points scored)

Truck Robinson (4) – Small Forward

Alvan Adams (16) – Power Forward

Rich Kelley (4) – Center

Kyle Macy (12) – Point Guard

Dennis Johnson (31) – Shooting Guard

Phoenix bench (points scored)

Walter Davis (18)

Larry Nance (16)

Alvin Scott (4)

Jeff Cook (2)

Dudley Bradley (0)

Craig Dykema (0)

Phoenix Coach: John MacLeod

kurt-rambis

Kurt Rambis (the Clark Kent literal look-alike) emerged as the Lakers starting power forward after Mitch Kupchak tore knee ligaments *photo courtesy of Dime Magazine

May 5, 1982 – East Semifinals, Game 5: Washington Bullets 126 @Boston Celtics 131 (2OT)

The Washington Bullets were a much different team than the one that had appeared in the 1979 NBA Finals.  In fact, they were the surprise team of the season.  The only players remaining were Kevin Grevey and Greg Ballard.  Bob Dandridge signed as a free agent with Milwaukee in the summer of 1981 before being released by the Bucks in November to end his NBA career.  Wes Unseld retired after the 1981 season and Elvin Hayes was traded to Houston for draft picks in the summer of ’81.

To rebuild, the Bullets grabbed physical Rick Mahorn in the 2nd round of the 1980 draft.  In 1981, they drafted Frankie Johnson in the 1st round and had acquired Jeff Ruland, who was drafted by Golden State in 1980.  They had signed veteran Spencer Haywood and acquired Jim Chones from the Lakers.  They finished 5th in the East at 43-39 and beat 4-seeded New Jersey in the mini-series.

Boston’s only roster changes were drafting Charles Bradley in the 1st round and Danny Ainge in the 2nd round.  The only other changes were the cut-down playing time of Nate Archibald and Chris Ford and increased playing time of Kevin McHale.  Archibald missed 14 games and didn’t start 17 others.  He would get an injury in this game that would eventually hurt the Celtics later in the playoffs.  Ford was in his last year playing before becoming an assistant coach with Boston.  The Celtics frequently used the big lineup of Bird, Maxwell, McHale and Parish in this game.

Frankie Johnson had made a long game-winning three in Game 2 in Boston to tie the series at 1.  But Washington lost twice at home (including in overtime in Game 4) and trailed 3-1 going back to Boston for Game 5.

Washington did get off to a good start at the Garden as Haywood got four of their first eight points and after a Bill Fitch technical, the Bullets led 9-4.  But Boston eventually came back to grab a 21-17 lead and increased it after Bird found Tiny for a wing jumper and then Parish hit a turn-around jumper in the post.  But Haywood hit a driving layup versus Parish while he was fouled.  The three-point play gave Spencer 11 points and cut the lead to five.  Boston maintained a 27-22 lead going into the 2nd quarter.

Washington came back to tie the game at 38 after Ruland came off the bench for 7 second quarter points.  Parish had 16 for the Celtics at that point (including 10 in the 1st quarter).  Washington went on to grab a 45-40 lead on a Ruland three-point play.  The Celtics came back to tie it at the half at 52 as Bird got 12 first half points.

For the first few minutes of the 3rd quarter, the Bullets matched the Celtics point for point.  But then Bird got hot and hit a wing jumper on a Maxwell handoff.  Then Tiny found Larry in transition for another wing pull-up.  Washington then called the first of three timeouts in the quarter.  Parish hit a driving layup for a 64-58 lead.  Then Tiny found M.L, Carr with a look-away pass on a 3-on-2 and Boston was up eight.  It continued after the 2nd Bullets timeout.  Parish hit two free throws after a Ballard jumper and then Bird found Maxwell with a no-look pass for a layup.  After Mahorn’s turn-around jumper, Tiny hit on an up-and-under.  Bird then rebounded and put in Carr’s missed layup in transition.  Then Maxwell hit a hook from the post and took it coast-to-coast after a steal.  Boston led 78-62 when Washington called timeout.  Boston’s biggest lead was at 82-64 before Washington started their comeback and cut the game to 86-73 going into the 4th.

Jeff Ruland scored five quick points and it was 86-78.  Then Rick Robey came off the Celtics bench and gave them a spark.  First, he hit a lefty hook from the post.  Then Gerald Henderson found him for a break-away layup.  Washington called timeout again, this time down 90-78.  Robey scored six more points to give Boston consecutive 13-point leads.  Washington was hitting but not stopping Gerald Henderson’s penetration, which led to most of Robey’s buckets.  Frankie Johnson hit a short pull-up jumper to cut the lead to 101-90 and then pressed Henderson.  He got an elbow from Gerald for an offensive foul but Frankie still felt the need to respond and a small fracas started.

Actually there were three separate shoving matches but nobody was kicked out.  The Bullets cut into the lead when Ruland got a three-point play on an offensive rebound.  He had 25 points and 6 offensive rebounds at that point.  Then the Bullets swung the ball to Ballard for a wing jumper and the score was 103-95.  But then Archibald hit a wing jumper after Parish swung him the ball.  Then Frankie Johnson pulled up way behind the three-point line and nailed one.  With 2:44 left, Tiny committed an offensive foul and then Frankie hit a fade-away three from the top of the key and the score was 105-101.

One would say that Frankie was ignited by the fracas but these were terrible percentage shots that were going in.  So I think Frankie was just a little lucky, especially considering Frankie was a career 22% three-point shooter.  The Celtics almost finished them off though as McHale hit a free throw after 2 offensive rebounds.  Then Parish blocked a Ruland shot and the Celtics had the ball.  Bird missed from the corner though and Frankie hit another pull-up three (a slightly better percentage shot than the other two.. only slightly) and it was 106-104 with 47 seconds left.  After a Boston timeout, Parish missed a turn-around from the post and then fouled Ruland going after the rebound.  Big Jeff made the free throws to tie the game with 28 seconds left and Parish had 5 fouls.  Parish missed another turn-around with 2 seconds left and Ruland got the rebound for overtime.

In overtime, Frankie got a steal from Parish and a breakaway layup to put Washington up 113-110.  After a Boston timeout and two Maxwell free throws, Frankie swung the ball to Ballard for a jumper from the foul line.  Then with 1:09 left, Ballard fed Ruland for a layup and the Bullets led 117-112.  Maxwell pushed the ball and got fouled with 1:00 left.  He nailed two more free throws as Haywood fouled out.  Then McHale stole a pass to Mahorn and hit a breakaway layup with 44 seconds left.  Then Frankie and Mahorn ran a pick-and-roll as Tiny crashed into Rick’s screen and appeared to hurt his left shoulder.  He stayed in the game for awhile but had to leave in the 2nd overtime.  He would be out for the last 4 games of the Eastern Conference Finals versus Philadelphia with a shoulder injury.  This would be a factor.

After Tiny fell down running into Mahorn, Rick rolled to the foul line and hit a jumper with 28 seconds left and it was 119-116 Washington.  After a Boston timeout, Tiny was fouled away from the ball and hit 1-of-2 free throws.  Boston committed their last foul before the limit with 10 seconds left and Washington had to inbound it.  They did to Frankie who was tied up by Bird.  The jump was controlled by Bird at center-court to Tiny.  Archibald drove and threw up a wild left-handed shot in the lane but McHale was right there to follow it in at the buzzer and send the game into a 2nd overtime.

Tiny and Bird committed their 5th fouls and went out for the rest of the game.  Washington took a 125-121 lead on two Ruland free throws.  Ruland had 33 points on 15-for-16 from the line.  But on back-to-back possessions, Maxwell hit a jumper in the post and then McHale hit a hook from the post after a spin.  The game was tied.  Frankie hit 1-of-2 free throws and then Henderson drove in from the left wing for a layup and Boston led 127-126 with 1:23 left.  Henderson then blocked a Frankie jumper (so I guess in the end Henderson got the best of that little battle).  Maxwell missed at the other end.  McHale rebounded and missed.  Washington appeared to have the ball for a second but it ended up going right to Parish, who laid it in while Mahorn fouled him.  This was Mahorn’s 6th foul.  The three-point play gave Boston a 130-126 lead with 41 seconds left and it was sealed for good when Frankie lost his touch, missing three three-pointers.

Boston was on to play Philadelphia for the third straight year in the Conference Finals.  For Washington, since 1982 their only playoff series win came in 2005.  Ruland became an all-star before having to retire for a few years in 1987 because of injuries.  Haywood and Chones ended up playing out their careers in Washington.  Grevey and Ballard ended up playing out their relevant careers in Washington.  Frankie would never amount to more than a backup guard.  The only player who ended up with any prominence later was Mahorn, who was traded to Detroit and became a part of the late-80’s bad boys teams.

Washington starters (points scored)

Spencer Haywood (21) – Small Forward

Greg Ballard (18) – Power Forward

Rick Mahorn (11) – Center

Frank Johnson (22) – Point Guard

Kevin Grevey (10) – Shooting Guard

Washington bench (points scored)

Jeff Ruland (33)

Don Collins (0)

John Lucas (9)

Jim Chones (0)

Garry Witts (2)

Washington Coach: Gene Shue

Boston starters (points scored)

Larry Bird (26) – Small Forward

Cedric Maxwell (26) – Power Forward

Robert Parish (33) – Center

Nate Archibald (15) – Point Guard

M.L. Carr (2) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Kevin McHale (14)

Gerald Henderson (3)

Rick Robey (10)

Chris Ford (2)

Danny Ainge (0)

Charles Bradley (0)

Boston Coach: Bill Fitch

greg_ballard

Greg Ballard saving a loose ball while Larry Bird looks on *photo courtesy of nba.com

May 15, 1982 – Western Conference Finals, Game 4: Los Angeles Lakers 128 @San Antonio Spurs 123

For the San Antonio Spurs, the only major changes from 1981 was acquiring Mike Mitchell from Cleveland and trading James Silas to Cleveland (in separate deals).  Against the Lakers though they were no match for the team that was 7-0 in the playoffs going into Game 4.

The Minneapolis Lakers had set the record in 1950 with 7 consecutive playoff wins.  Now with a win in Game 4 at HemisFair Arena they would not only sweep the Spurs but break their own record.  The game started back-and-forth but a Nixon coast-to-coast drive and one put the Lakers up 13-7.  It got worse for the Spurs as George Gervin committed his 3rd foul mid-way through the first quarter.  He stayed in the game though, it was do-or-die.  But Magic’s two free throws off that foul put the Lakers up 22-13.  Mitchell hit three straight field goals for San Antonio but the Lakers kept their advantage because Bob McAdoo came off the bench and played like he was still in Buffalo.  McAdoo hit a few turn-around jumpers with guys in his face and a Nixon alley-oop to Cooper put the Lakers up nine.  Their lead stayed there at 36-27 going into the 2nd quarter.

The Iceman got it going in the 2nd quarter starting with a driving banker and a foul.  McAdoo kept it going as he hit two jumpers to give the Lakers their biggest lead at 40-30.  Gervin then hit another driving banker and a foul (on a 1-on-2 break, no less) and Dave Corzine came off the bench to hit a jumper.  Corzine was really fired up, as evidenced by him getting a technical foul after committing a foul on a Mark Landsberger breakaway layup.  After that dust settled, the Lakers had a 44-35 lead but Gervin hit back-to-back field goals and eventually the Spurs cut it back to three.

The action was up-and-down (as you probably guessed by the final) and there were many shots in early offense as well as great blocks.  The Lakers eventually went back up by eight after Nixon hit two jumpers and Kareem outletted to Magic for a driving layup.  But the Spurs, led by Corzine, Mark Olberding and Mike Bratz, cut the game back to 66-64 at the half.

San Antonio then came out flying in the 3rd.  Johnny Moore (the league leader in assists in 1982) found Gervin at the top of the key for a jumper.  Then Moore hit on a driving layup.  After a Nixon wing jumper, Gervin scored on a lob from Moore and then Iceman rebounded a missed breakaway from Moore and put it back in.  Gervin’s pull-up from the elbow gave him 30 points and put San Antonio up 78-71.  L.A. called time.  It worked to start as Kareem bounced in a sky-hook.  But then Mitchell hit a jumper from the post and Moore found Gervin again at the free throw line for a jumper.  But then San Antonio’s momentum was killed when Gervin committed his 4th foul on a silly reach-in.

However, after the Lakers scored five straight points, Mitchell got it going.  He hit a leaner in the lane while he was fouled.  Then after another high-arcing shot in the lane by Mitchell, Moore scored on a 2-on-2 break and San Antonio was up 89-80.  The Lakers went on a 6-2 run but then Olberding found Gervin with a lob for his 36th point and Mitchell hit his 24th point on an offensive rebound.  The Spurs were up 95-86 with a few minutes to go in the third.  Then the trap of the Lakers came to life and forced some turnovers.  Kareem scored on a put-back, Jamaal Wilkes hit two free throws, Magic found Nixon for a pull-up after a steal, Cooper found McAdoo at the wing for a jumper and then Magic found Cooper who found Nixon for a layup.  Just like that, L.A. led 96-95 going into the fourth.

The run continued.  Magic got a steal and layup.  Nixon found Cooper at the wing for a jumper after a Corzine field goal.  McAdoo then hit a driving layup.  Eventually, McAdoo’s outlet to Wilkes for a breakaway put the Lakers up 106-99 and it was timeout Spurs.  After the timeout, McAdoo hit an elbow jumper to officially complete a 22-4 run.  That run didn’t complete the Spurs though.  Gervin fed Olberding for a layup.  Mitchell kicked out to Bratz for a three and then Mitchell hit a turn-around in the lane and it was 108-106.  A possession after Nixon drove down the middle for a layup to give L.A. a four-point lead, Gervin committed his 5th foul.  He then committed his 6th about a minute later charging into Cooper on a 3-on-2 break.  The Lakers led 111-108 at the time.  Gervin left with 38 points.

But the big men of Mitchell, Corzine and Olberding came alive for the Spurs.  Mitchell hit another turn-around in the post and after Nixon got his 30th point on a running hook, Corzine put back an offensive rebound and was fouled.  The three-point play tied the game at 113.  Magic hit a free throw and Kareem hit a hook while being pushed out of bounds.  Kareem missed the free throw though and Bratz fed Olberding for a layup and it was 116-115 Lakers.  Magic then committed his 5th foul and Corzine put back a Mitchell miss for a Spurs lead.  With 3:00 to go, Magic scored on an offensive rebound and the Lakers regained the lead.  Then Mitchell went to the line and hit the first free throw.  He missed the 2nd but Corzine tipped that miss in and it was 120-118 San Antonio.

Kareem tied the game with two free throws and then Magic got a defensive rebound and took it coast-to-coast for a runner.  Bratz found Moore at the top of the key and the game was tied again at 122.  Moore then made a great block on a Nixon fast break layup attempt and the Spurs got the ball with 48 seconds left.  But Magic got a steal 14 seconds later and then with 17 seconds left in the game, he was fouled on a cutting layup.  Magic hit the two free throws.  After a Spurs timeout, Mitchell was fouled going baseline with 13 seconds left.  He missed the first but made the second.  The Lakers moved it around and Wilkes was fouled and hit two free throws with 8 seconds left.  The score was 126-123 Lakers.

The Spurs had Bratz, a great three-point shooter for the time, in the game and brought in Roger Phegley, another shooter, to inbound the ball.  this was Phegley’s first action of the game and his inbounds pass was stolen by McAdoo who capped the game and the series with a dunk for his 26th point.

The Spurs made a major off-season move to try and compete with the Lakers.  They acquired Artis Gilmore from Chicago for Mark Olberding and Dave Corzine.  Olberding was traded within a year by the Bulls and Corzine was on for Michael Jordan’s first 5 years in Chicago.  Meanwhile for the Spurs, their window was closing.. perhaps surprisingly sooner than expected.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (10) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (2) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (22) – Center

Magic Johnson (22) – Point Guard

Norm Nixon (30) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Michael Cooper (10)

Bob McAdoo (26)

Mark Landsberger (6)

Clay Johnson (0)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

San Antonio starters (points scored)

Mike Mitchell (30) – Small Forward

Mark Olberding (11) – Power Forward

George Johnson (0) – Center

Johnny Moore (13) – Point Guard

George Gervin (38) – Shooting Guard

San Antonio bench (points scored)

Dave Corzine (18)

Gene Banks (4)

Mike Bratz (9)

Roger Phegley (0)

San Antonio Coach: Stan Albeck

May 23, 1982 – Eastern Conference Finals, Game 7: Philadelphia 76ers 120 @Boston Celtics 106

It was a defining moment for a franchise and perhaps the defining moment of the series.  The Philadelphia 76ers and Doctor J were pretty well known by then as the bridesmaids.  But could it happen again?  The 76ers had taken a 3-1 lead over Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals after Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald strained his shoulder in Game 3 and was out for the series.  But Boston blew out the 76ers in Games 5 & 6 and now Philly was back at Boston Garden for Game 7 with no shot to win.

Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones were now in the starting lineup with Erving, Cheeks and Caldwell Jones.  Bobby and Bird got the first two baskets for their team and the game went back-and-forth until a 7-0 Philadelphia run put them up 21-14, led by Toney’s 9 points.  The Celtics came back though as Gerald Henderson (taking Tiny’s spot in the starting lineup) and reserves Kevin McHale and rookie Danny Ainge each contributed four points.  Toney finished the first period with 14 points while Dr. J was scoreless so far.  Philly led 30-28 going into the 2nd quarter.

At the start, a Parish jumper from the free throw line in the face of Darryl Dawkins tied the game.  Then a McHale block started a 3-on-1 in which Ainge found Bird for a layup and Boston led.  The 76ers regained the lead despite Dawkins picking up his 3rd foul.  With Philly up 35-34, Erving hit his first two points on a foul line jumper.  Then Cheeks fed Erving for a layup and Cheeks got a steal and fed the Doctor for a slam.  A Toney steal and feed to Erving for a fast break three-point play put Philly up 46-40.  But a Bird field goal on a 76ers goaltend at the buzzer cut Philadelphia’s lead to 52-49 at halftime.

The 76ers came out flying in the third.  Toney found Cheeks for a jumper, Cheeks got a steal and layup and then Cheeks led another fast break after Erving got a block.  Dr. J also finished the 3-on-1 and it was timeout Boston, down 58-49.  Boston cut it to five on two fast breaks but then Erving hit a corner jumper and then found Cheeks for a layup on a 3-on-2.  Erving’s two free throws after Gerald Henderson’s 5th foul put the 76ers up 10.  But then M.L. Carr penetrated and found Bird for a driving layup.  Then Bird hit two free throws and fed Carr for a layup.  Bird hit two more free throws for 20 points and the score was cut to 64-62 Philly.

Toney then responded with a baseline pull-up jumper.  Ainge followed with a turnover and Erving kicked out to Cheeks for a jumper from the top of the key.  Ainge then threw another ball out of bounds and 76ers reserve Mike Bantom (who had been acquired mid-season and was in a terrible slump in the series) scored on an offensive rebound and it was timeout Boston with Philly up 70-62.  Cheeks found Toney for corner jumpers twice after Boston points.  Boston’s 7 third quarter turnovers also helped Philly keep that lead.  With 27 seconds left, Erving hit a pull-up jumper from the baseline and the 76ers led 81-71.  Then the Doctor got a block on Maxwell and hit an elbow jumper at the buzzer to put Boston down 12 going into the 4th.

It was forgotten by the end of the third that Julius Erving had been scoreless in the 1st because he had taken over the game and his team would not relinquish control.  Erving was also helped a great deal by Andrew Toney, who would become known as the Boston Strangler after this game.  It was Toney who put the 76ers up by double-digits for good.  After Boston cut the lead to 87-78 on two Henderson field goals (including a three-point play), McHale missed two free throws.  Then Cheeks found Toney on the baseline off a screen.  Andrew hit a pull-up while he was fouled and the three-point play put Philly up 90-78.  Then Cheeks found Dawkins for a slam on a 3-on-2.  Toney hit a wing jumper over Bird and then Erving hit a wing jumper to put the 76ers up 16.

After back-to-back field goals by McHale and Henderson, Toney found Erving with a lob inbounds pass for a layup.  Then Toney hit a jumper in the post after a pivot and at least 3 fakes.  Then Cheeks found Andrew again in transition for a short banker.  It was 102-85 at that point and Boston tried to regroup with a timeout.  It didn’t work as the Celtics could not get on an extended run.  Toney’s last field goal came with 1:40 left on a slam ahead of the field.  The 76ers led 110-95 at that point.  In the final minute with the game all but over, the Boston fans started chanting toward Philly ‘Beat L.A.’

It was incredible, two bitter rivals at that point and the one that was losing wanted the other to win it all.. or least beat the Lakers.

Philadelphia starters (points scored)

Julius Erving (29) – Small Forward

Bobby Jones (17) – Power Forward

Caldwell Jones (6) – Center

Maurice Cheeks (19) – Point Guard

Andrew Toney (34) – Shooting Guard

Philadelphia bench (points scored)

Darryl Dawkins (2)

Mike Bantom (2)

Earl Curetan (0)

Clint Richardson (2)

Franklin Edwards (5)

Philadelphia Coach: Billy Cunningham

Boston starters (points scored)

Larry Bird (20) – Small Forward

Cedric Maxwell (7) – Power Forward

Robert Parish (23) – Center

Gerald Henderson (12) – Point Guard

M.L. Carr (7) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Kevin McHale (19)

Rick Robey (0)

Chris Ford (0)

Danny Ainge (17)

Charles Bradley (0)

Eric Fernsten (1)

Boston Coach: Bill Fitch

toney

Andrew Toney became known as the Boston Strangler after this game *photo courtesy of the Phanatic Magazine

May 27, 1982 – NBA Finals, Game 1: Los Angeles Lakers 124 @Philadelphia 76ers 117

This series was between two fast breaking teams, so the series was billed as perhaps the most up-and-down championship series ever.  The Spectrum was loud after I guess many fans figured they wouldn’t be back after losing Game 6 versus Boston.

It got even louder when Magic Johnson committed two fouls on the first possession.  He stayed in though and wasn’t hampered too much in terms of effectiveness.  Erving and Toney hit elbow jumpers that sandwiched a Kareem three-point play.  Then to highlight the fast breaking aspect of at least L.A., Magic went coast-to-coast for a runner and a foul right after Toney’s make.  Both teams also displayed great teamwork.  The Lakers highlight was when Wilkes rebounded a Kareem miss.  Then quick passes to Rambis and to Nixon led to a Magic layup.

Toney and Bobby Jones got off to good starts and Darryl Dawkins gave the 76ers a spark off the bench.  Toney fed Dawkins for a layup and then Cheeks hit Andrew with a pull-up jumper on the break.  Philly led 24-18 at that point.  Toney however injured a leg and wouldn’t be effective again until it was just a bit too late.  Later, Cheeks found Erving for a fast break slam over Kareem that REALLY got the crowd going.  Rambis scored four points to end the first quarter with Philly up 32-30.

Philly’s other big advantage that they weren’t expected to have was getting on the offensive boards.  This was signified by Mike Bantom getting a rebound, missing a shot but tipping in his own miss.  This completed a 6-0 run for Philadelphia to start the 2nd quarter.  After a Kareem finger roll, Dawkins’ banker gave him his 12th point but he committed his 3rd foul a little later.  The Lakers stayed within striking distance, highlighted by their own 6-0 run on three layups that cut the lead to one.

But Philadelphia stayed in the lead playing well at both ends.  After Cheeks took it himself on a 3-on-2 break, L.A. came right back but Caldwell Jones blocked two shots and then Erving got a steal and slam.  Philadelphia led 54-47 at that point.  Erving then got a tip-dunk for his 14th point after a Kareem free throw.  Then Cheeks found Bobby Jones for a lefty layup and one.  The 76ers had an 11-point lead after the three-point play.  That lead stayed at 61-50 at halftime.  Dawkins matched Erving with 14 points to lead the game.  The Lakers had 16 first half turnovers as perhaps they were rusty having played their last game 12 days before Game 1.

The 76ers started the third period strong as well on offensive rebounds.  First Bobby Jones got a tip-in and then Erving scored on a reverse after Magic got his own offensive rebound tip to Kareem for a layup.  After a Nixon driving reverse layup, Cheeks found Erving ahead for a layup and Toney found the Doctor with an alley-oop.  It was timeout L.A. down 69-54.  The Lakers responded with an 8-2 run (six from Wilkes) but then Toney found Caldwell Jones for a slam and later Caldwell got an offensive rebound slam on a Toney miss.  The 76ers took an 83-68 lead about halfway through the 3rd when Erving found Bobby Jones for a tough layup.

But then it began.  What was it?  You’ll know.  Nixon found Wilkes for a layup for his 10th point of the quarter.  Jamaal then hit two free throws and Kareem hit a hook.  Toney got his 4th foul and Nixon hit a free throw and a step-back.  Then Kareem hit another sky hook.  Caldwell Jones finally broke the run with a hook in the lane.  But the run in fact continued.  Nixon hit another fade-away in the lane and then found Wilkes on the break for a layup.  Then the game was tied when Nixon found McAdoo for a breakaway.  Kareem then put back his own miss.  Bantom tied the game again with two free throws but would later miss two after Magic found Cooper for a layup on a 2-on-1.  Wilkes then hit a wing jumper for his 16th point of the third and 24th of the game.  Erving hit two free throws to cut the Lakers lead to 91-89 after three.

L.A. had scored 41 points in the 3rd and finished on a 23-6 run.  But it didn’t stop there.  No.  McAdoo put back his own miss and then went to the line after Dawkins committed his 4th foul.  He hit two and then Magic from the top of the key found Cooper cutting down the middle for a layup.  Then a Cooper block led to a Rambis breakaway and L.A. led 99-90.  But the run continued.  McAdoo hit a corner jumper.  Rambis hit on a reverse.  Cooper hit from the top of the key.  And Nixon hit a running hook in the lane after Philadelphia finally got their first field goal of the 4th on a Dawkins offensive rebound and slam.  After Cooper split a pair of free throws, L.A. led 108-92 with about 8 minutes left.  In the last 10 minutes of action, L.A. had gone on a 40-9 run.

Cheeks hit a few jumpers but L.A. maintained its double-digit lead.  Philly finally cut it to nine on a Toney three with 3:00 left.  The 76ers had a chance to decrease that but Cooper got a steal and hit an elbow jumper with 1:58 left.  Despite another Toney three 30 seconds later, Philly couldn’t quite get enough together to make a serious threat.  They were done in by the 40-9 run.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (24) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (12) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (23) – Center

Magic Johnson (10) – Point Guard

Norm Nixon (24) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Michael Cooper (17)

Bob McAdoo (14)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

Philadelphia starters (points scored)

Julius Erving (27) – Small Forward

Bobby Jones (19) – Power Forward

Caldwell Jones (6) – Center

Maurice Cheeks (12) – Point Guard

Andrew Toney (20) – Shooting Guard

Philadelphia bench (points scored)

Darryl Dawkins (16)

Lionel Hollins (6)

Mike Bantom (8)

Steve Mix (3)

Earl Curetan (0)

Clint Richardson (0)

Philadelphia Coach: Billy Cunningham

June 8, 1982 – NBA Finals, Game 6: Philadelphia 76ers 104 @Los Angeles Lakers 114

The 76ers gave the Lakers their first playoff loss in 1982 when they won Game 2 at the Spectrum 110-94.  But then the teams traveled to the Forum in L.A. and the 76ers never grabbed a lead in two games.  Philly stayed alive in Game 5 by holding Kareem to 6 points, a career-playoff low.  But they would have to have the lead at least once in Game 6 to send the series back to the Spectrum.

It didn’t come immediately as Magic got a cutting layup on a give-and-go with Kareem.  Then Abdul-Jabbar got a block which started a Nixon to Wilkes fast break basket.  Then Magic found Rambis for another layup on the break and Philly called a quick timeout down 6-0.  But after the timeout, Kareem got a defensive rebound and outletted to Magic, who threw a whip pass to Wilkes for a three-point play and a 9-0 lead.  The 76ers finally got on the board when Erving hit an elbow jumper and then Cheeks went to coast-to-coast after a Caldwell Jones rebound.  But Toney got 2 early fouls and Billy Cunningham got a technical.  The Lakers led 14-6 when Magic found Rambis for a slam.  The Sixers responded with an 8-2 run but then Cooper and McAdoo sparked L.A. off the bench.  Coop put back a Kareem miss and then hit a pull-up from the corner to give L.A. an eight-point lead.  Then after two 76ers free throws, McAdoo hit a pull-up off a Kareem screen and then Cooper found him for a corner jumper.  Philly closed the quarter on a 6-0 run though as Dawkins hit a corner jumper, Bobby Jones tipped in a miss and then Toney hit a pull-up from the wing at the buzzer.  The Lakers led 30-26.

The Lakers kept a slim lead as McAdoo and Cooper matched Toney’s 6 quick points.  Even with the Lakers lead, Kareem still hadn’t scored (his misses included an air-balled free throw) to follow up his Game 5.  Kareem had been bothered by migranes pregame (which was not unusual) and missed shoot-around.  But he scored on an inside move and layup to put the Lakers up 46-40.  That seemed to spark the Lakers as they took a 54-44 on back-to-back Wilkes jumpers.  They maintained that lead for the half and each team went back-and-forth with layups and fast break buckets.  The half concluded with Magic finding Cooper who found Wilkes for his 17th point and a 66-57 lead at halftime.

The 76ers came out flying in the 2nd half (well, more specifically, Julius Erving came out literally flying).  The Doctor started with a spin and a jumper in the lane and then later after a Philly steal in the back court, Erving hit a double-pump finger roll versus Kareem.  Then Cheeks lobbed one to him from half-court.  Erving missed the first layup attempt but tipped in that miss and Philly had cut the lead to 68-65.  Nixon hit back-to-back jumpers but then committed his 4th foul.  Back-to-back jumpers by Toney and Bobby Jones cut the Lakers lead to 76-75.  Then Erving had a breakaway attempt but McAdoo hustled back and blocked his shot.  This block triggered a 3-on-2 in which Wilkes found Kareem for a slam.  The 76ers cut it to one twice more but on their next chance to lead Cooper stole the ball from Toney and hit two free throws.  Then Dawkins committed his 4th foul and Kareem hit two more from the line.  McAdoo’s baseline pull-up with 13 seconds left in the corner put the Lakers up 86-79 going into the 4th.

The Lakers regained an 11-point lead when Magic found Cooper on the break.  The lead swayed from 9-to-11 until a Cheeks steal from Magic and layup cut the lead to 100-93.  Rambis then got a tip-slam as nobody picked him up on the boards.  Dawkins fouled out and Clint Richardson and Kareem each hit a free throw before Bobby Jones’ two free throws cut the lead to 103-96.  Toney then hit a pull-up in the lane.  And then with 3:55 left, Cheeks found Andrew at the wing for a jumper and the score was 103-100.  The Lakers went to Kareem.  He missed but Wilkes got the rebound after the ball was tipped around.  Then Wilkes missed but McAdoo rebounded and L.A. re-set the offense.

They went to Kareem again and he missed a sky hook.  But he got his own rebound again and his put-back rolled around the rim before finally falling in while Kareem was fouled.  His offensive rebound three-point play gave him 18 points and 9 rebounds and gave the Lakers a 106-100 lead with 3:07 left.  Then 17 seconds later, McAdoo rebounded and outletted to Wilkes, who spun and made a layup.  Philly called timeout.  They scored 2 free throws on an illegal defense and Magic’s 5th foul but Toney missed a key pull-up in the lane that would have cut the game to four.  Nixon then hit a driving layup with 1:43 left.  Then Cheeks missed and Kareem rebounded.  Two Wilkes free throws with 1:25 left put L.A. up 10 and sealed the game and series.  Even Laker fans in the stands were drinking champaign (the 80’s must have been awesome).

Philly never could grab the lead in any of the three games in L.A. and the Lakers had their 2nd championship in 3 years.  These two teams would meet again in the 1983 Finals with slightly different rosters.

Philadelphia starters (points scored)

Julius Erving (30) – Small Forward

Bobby Jones (7) – Power Forward

Caldwell Jones (2) – Center

Maurice Cheeks (15) – Point Guard

Andrew Toney (29) – Shooting Guard

Philadelphia bench (points scored)

Darryl Dawkins (10)

Mike Bantom (6)

Clint Richardson (5)

Philadelphia Coach: Billy Cunningham

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (27) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (8) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (18) – Center

Magic Johnson (13) – Point Guard  (triple-double: 13, 13, & 13)

Norm Nixon (16) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Michael Cooper (16)

Bob McAdoo (16)

Mark Landsberger (0)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

erving magic kareem

Julius Erving was one again fantastic but it was Magic, Kareem and the Lakers that came out smiling in 1982 *photos courtesy of flickriver and LA Times

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