DAR Sports: 2002 NBA Finals- Los Angeles Lakers vs New Jersey Nets

By @TrueGodImmortal 

The last time we had another DAR Finals recap edition, we talked about the time Shaq got swept with the Orlando Magic against the Houston Rockets. Today is yet another special one, as we talk the last championship of the Kobe and Shaq era, as the Lakers swept the Nets in 4 games to win the 2002 NBA championship. The road to get there for both teams however was no easy task and they definitely worked hard for it. The Nets were the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, and the Lakers, after back to back championship seasons were the number three seed in the West. As the playoffs for underway, both teams would face challenges.

For the Lakers, it would be a breeze against the Blazers, as they swept them in the first round, and managed to go through the Spurs in 5 games, before having a hard fought 7 game series against the Sacramento Kings to earn their third straight Finals appearance. For the Nets, they were pushed to the limit in 5 games against the Pacers in the first round, before making quick work of the Hornets in 5 games and edging the Celtics in a 6 game series to make it to the NBA Finals. The stage was set: a hungry Nets team looked to dethrone the reigning and defending champions.

The starting lineup for the Nets would feature Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Todd MacCllouch, Kerry Kitties, and Keitj Van Horn. The Lakers would have Kobe, Shaq, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox and Robert Horry starting. As the first game approached, Kobe and Shaq knew they were on the verge of history.

*Game 1

-Despite the issues that Kobe and Shaq had personally, they still managed to pull it together for a great season and would end up playing very well together in game 1 to take a 1-0 series lead over the Nets. The Lakers would win 99-94, but went well into the 2nd quarter with a huge 42-19 lead that the Nets would eventually fight back from and bring it close, but too many Hack-A-Shaq moments in the 4th quarter sealed their fate, as Shaq managed to make the majority of his free throws. Shaq would finish with 36 points and 16 rebounds, while Jason Kidd would lead the Nets with 23 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 steals, but it wasn't enough. Would the Nets rebound in game 2?

*Game 2

-No, the Nets would not rebound in game 2. After a heavy battle to the end in game 1, the Lakers made easy work of the Nets in game 2, with a 106-83 victory to take a 2-0 series lead. The Lakers were dominant throughout most of the game and never let up. Kerry Kitties managed to score 23 points for the Nets and Kidd played well again, but they had no answers for Shaq, who finished with 40 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists. With game 2 in the bag, the series would now head to New Jersey. Could the Nets regroup?

*Game 3

-Yes and no. While the Nets managed to come back and play extremely hard in game 3, it was once again not enough for them to win. The Lakers seemed to have the formula to stop the Nets and managed to take a 3-0 series lead with a 106-103 victory. Jason Kidd played amazingly for the Nets with 30 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds, while Kobe would finish with 36 points and Shaq would also score 35 points in this game along with 11 rebounds as the Lakers coasted yet again. One game away from making history, could the Nets manage to prolong the celebration?

*Game 4

-Unfortunately for the Nets, that answer would be no. With a 113-107 victory, the Lakers would complete the trilogy and 3-Peat. This would be the 14th championship in Lakers franchise history, as Kobe and Shaq completed their historic run together. Shaq would finish with 34 points and 10 rebounds, while Kobe put up 25 points and 8 assists. Kenyon Martin stepped up in a major way for the Nets, as he put up 35 points and 11 rebounds, while Lucious Harris provided 22 points off the bench. However, the Nets would fall to the Lakers in a 4 game sweep, but you could rest assured the Nets would be back in the Finals(they were the very next year, only to lose again).

The Lakers had etched their name in history yet again, as the Shaq and Kobe era officially ended to me here. Sure, we got two more seasons of them together, but the chemistry was never really the same, as Kobe started to come more into his own as a player and their personal problems seemed to get even worse. Regardless, the 2000, 2001, and 2002 titles were claimed by them and they led the team to greatness.

Your 2002 NBA Champions, Los Angeles Lakers!



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