Game 6 – Lakers 123, 76ers 107
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t make the trip back to Philadelphia for Game 6, after Lakers team doctors said he would not be able to play. With Spencer Haywood still suspended, the Lakers lacked a center, so coach Paul Westhead turned to Magic Johnson. The 6-foot-9 rookie guard took the opening tip at center, with Michael Cooper replacing him in the starting lineup at guard.
The game was back-and-forth in the first half, with both teams taking big leads before ending up tied at 60. The Lakers opened the second half on a 14-0 run, sparked by Jamaal Wilkes, who scored 16 of his 37 points in the third quarter. The 76ers got within two points twice but never got any closer, and the Lakers ended the game on a 20-6 run, with Johnson leading the fast break.
Johnson, one year removed from leading Michigan State to a national title in college, took advantage of his mismatches on the offensive end, scoring 42 points, including a perfect 14-of-14 night from the free-throw line. He also had 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals, earning series MVP honors. Johnson finished the series averaging 21.5 ppg, 11.2 rpg and 8.7 apg.
Lakers power forward Jim Chones helped fill in for Abdul-Jabbar on the defensive end, holding Darryl Dawkins to 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking two shots. Julius Erving led the 76ers with 27 points in the losing effort.
When the NBA compilied its list of the 60 Greatest Playoff Moments to coincide with the league’s 60th anniversary, this game was ranked No. 2 on the list.