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On this date: Ralph Sampson sends Lakers home for summer

In 1984 and 1985, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics faced off in the NBA Finals with both teams taking home one championship each, and it was assumed that 1986 would bring a rubber match.

L.A. won 62 regular season games for the second year in a row, but head coach Pat Riley sensed some warning signs as the playoff opened.

His squad swept the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, then had some trouble against the Dallas Mavericks, needing six contests to finish them off in the second round.

The Western Conference Finals pitted Showtime versus the Houston Rockets, a team that had a twin towers combo of young stars Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson.

The Lakers won Game 1 easily, and it looked like another championship matchup with Boston was imminent.

But Houston took Game 2, and when the series moved to Texas, Olajuwon was unstoppable as it won both Game 3 and Game 4.

All of a sudden, L.A. was facing elimination at home in Game 5.

Magic Johnson had 24 points and 13 assists, while 39-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar turned the clock back, as he so often did in big games, with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

When Olajuwon was ejected for fighting with backup big man Mitch Kupchak with 5:14 left in the fourth quarter and the Lakers leading 103-99, it looked like they were about to win and stay alive.

But the Rockets fought back to tie the game at 112, and they had the ball with one second remaining.

Rodney McCray inbounded the ball to Sampson, who was 10 feet away from the hoop, guarded by Abdul-Jabbar with his back to the basket.

In one motion, Sampson caught the ball, turned and shot it.

Good.

The Forum went silent as the fans there realized that the Lakers had just been knocked out of the playoffs.

Riley later admitted that his team had been complacent all season after beating the Celtics to win the world championship the year before.

On the bright side, the loss seemed to awaken a monster, as the Lakers came back even stronger and won back-to-back titles in 1987 and 1988.