Lakers' History Moments: How Robert Horry's clutch shots helped the NBA's last three-peat

Big Shot Rob hit one of his many clutch shots against the Blazers back in '02.
Big Shot Rob hit one of his many clutch shots against the Blazers back in '02.

Despite the LA Lakers' dismal season, there are always many nostalgic moments to look back on for fans and perhaps youngsters wanting to learn history.

Seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry made a career of hitting game-winning shots, especially in the playoffs with the Houston Rockets, Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.

Horry was a vital member of the Lakers, the last NBA team to three-peat (2000, 2001 and 2002). One of his most famous shots occurred on April 28, 2002, against the archrival Portland Trail Blazers in Game 3 of the first round, when it was still a best-of-five.

Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers were an immensely talented but immensely troubled team. They were led by Rasheed Wallace, a precursor to the modern-day stretch 4. He was capable of dominating any game on both ends, but also capable of costing his team games due to his notorious penchant for technical fouls.

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Wallace and Horry were the precursors to the modern-day stretch 4.
Wallace and Horry were the precursors to the modern-day stretch 4.

Scottie Pippen was also there as a still-important player on both ends. He was brought in to provide leadership and championship experience to a young, talented and volatile team.

Other important pieces included starters Dale Davis, Bonzi Wells and Damon Stoudamire. Off the bench were Derek Anderson, Ruben Patterson, Shawn Kemp and Steve Kerr. Future All-Star and double-double machine Zach Randolph was at the end of the bench. Maurice Cheeks was their coach, taking over from Mike Dunleavy, who was fired the previous season after losing yet again to the Lakers.

Rivalry

The Trail Blazers matched up with the Lakers five times in six years, four of them in the first round. The most notable was the 2000 Western Conference finals, which went to seven games. In Game 7, the Lakers came from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win, capped off by an alley-oop from Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O’Neal.

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Matchup

The Blazers and Lakers matched up two more consecutive years, this time in the first round. This was a No. 2- vs. 7-seed matchup. The Lakers went 58-24 in the regular season, while the Trail Blazers finished 49-33.

3-0 Sweep and Horry’s heroics

Here's the scene for Game 3: The Purple and Gold were down by two points in front of a raucous Portland crowd.

Rick Fox inbounded the ball and passed it to Bryant, who was expected to go for the shot, but he got doubled by self-proclaimed “Kobe Stopper” Ruben Patterson and Pippen. Because of the attention Kobe commanded, Horry was open on the baseline in front of the Blazers bench. The rest is history.

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The Purple and Gold escaped 92-91 and swept the Blazers for a second consecutive year in the opening round.

Importance of Horry and the "others" for LA Lakers

The Lakers were in the midst of their three-peat, led by the dominance of O'Neal, the drive of Kobe Bryant and the coaching of the “Zen Master” Phil Jackson. As Shaq frequently says on TNT, the “others” are also important to winning.

During that run, Horry, along with Rick Fox, Derek Fisher and Brian Shaw hit clutch shots and made timely plays on both ends.

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In lieu of recent talk about “bus riders” and “bus drivers,” it could be argued that Horry helped put in the gas, fix a flat tire or change the oil when necessary. Like Wallace, he was a precursor to the stretch power forward, which is a dime-a-dozen in today’s NBA.

Besides hitting shots, Horry was vital by taking charges, blocking shots and getting key rebounds and was also an underrated lobber to Shaq.

This shot, along with perhaps the most famous shot of his career, the game-winner against the Sacramento Kings. It showed his importance to the championship team, why he is known as “Big Shot Rob” and why he can fit rings on almost all of his fingers today.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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