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  • Writer's pictureKurtis Tatkenhorst

June 3- Magic Johnson sets an NBA Finals record with 21 assists

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

1984- On this day in Sports History, Magic Johnson had 21 assists in Game Three of the 1984 NBA Finals. This broke the record for most assists in an NBA Finals game which still stands today. Behind Magic Johnson’s record of 21 assists, the Los Angeles Lakers had a great offensive night. The Lakers scored 137 points that night to beat the Boston Celtics 137-104. By winning Game 3, the Lakers took the series lead two games to one. The Lakers started the first quarter up 29-26 and extended the lead to 11 at halftime. The third quarter is when they blew out the Celtics as they outscored them 47-33 in the quarter. The Lakers would then coast to a 137-104 win. In addition to 21 assists, Magic Johnson also had 14 points and 11 rebounds for a triple double. He also finished the game with only two turnovers. The Lakers’ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 24 points and Bob McAdoo had 21 points. Larry Bird led the Celtics by scoring 30 points in the loss.

The games between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers was a huge rivalry in the 1980’s. The Magic Johnson led Lakers and Larry Bird led Celtics met in the NBA Finals three out of four years. The 1984 Finals series was the first one. Although the Lakers won Game 3, the Boston Celtics would go on to win the NBA Title in seven games. The series had many iconic moments, including Magic Johnson’s 21 assists and the Lakers blow out victory, which led to highly anticipated rematches. The Lakers got revenge the next year as they won the 1985 NBA Title. The 1987 Finals was the third time they met in which the Lakers won the Title and beat the Celtics again. In 1986, the Celtics won the NBA Title over the Houston Rockets after the Lakers lost to the Rockets in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Magic Johnson’s record of 21 assists in an NBA Finals game is a record that hasn’t been close to being matched by someone else. The previous record was 19 assists in a game by Walt Frazier in 1970. Johnson had since gotten 20 assists twice and 19 assists twice. The closest anyone else has come to breaking the record is 17 assists which Robert Reid and Dennis Johnson got in 1986 and 1985. The most assists an active NBA player has gotten is 16 by Rajon Rondo in 2008 and 14 by Lebron James in 2017. Magic Johnson’s assists record in an NBA Finals game which he set on this date in 1984 will be very tough to beat.

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Moreno, Matthew. “This Day In Lakers History: Magic Johnson Sets NBA Finals Record With 21 Assists Against Celtics.” Lakers Nation, 4 June 2019

“Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers Box Score, June 3, 1984.” Basketball Reference

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