1969-70 Season

Record: 46-36, second place in Western Division

A new season brought a new coach, as Joe Mullaney replaced Butch van Breda Kolff, who resigned after the 1968-69 season. The Lakers were hurt by a knee injury to Wilt Chamberlain in the ninth game of the season, forcing the dominant center out until the playoffs. Elgin Baylor missed 28 games because of sore knees, but Jerry West led the NBA with 31.2 points per game.

Playoffs: The Lakers fell behind, 3-1, against the Phoenix Suns in the best-of-seven Western Division semifinals before rallying to win the final three games. They then swept the Atlanta Hawks in four games in the division finals, setting up an NBA Finals matchup with the New York Knicks. After the teams split the first two games, one of the most famous shots in NBA history took place in Game 3. With the Lakers trailing by two, West sank a 60-foot shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. New York won the game, but West's shot earned him his famous nickname: "Mr. Clutch."

After the Lakers evened the series in Game 4, the teams returned to New York for Game 5. In the first half, Knicks center Willis Reed went down with a torn thigh muscle and didn't return. Despite trailing by 13 points at halftime, New York rallied without its center, posting a 107-100 victory. Reed sat out Game 6, and the Lakers rolled to a 135-113 victory. Moments before tip-off in Game 7, a deafening roar from the crowd at Madison Square Garden erupted as Reed hobbled onto the court. He then scored the first two baskets of the game before returning to the bench. With the crowd and Reed's teammates inspired, the Lakers lost. For the seventh time in nine years the team had reached the Finals and come up empty.

Playoff Results

Western Division Semifinals

  • at Lakers 128, Phoenix 112

  • Phoenix 114, at Lakers 101

  • at Phoenix 112, Lakers 98

  • at Phoenix 112, Lakers 102

  • at Lakers 138, Phoenix 121

  • Lakers 104, at Phoenix 93

  • at Lakers 129, Phoenix 94

Western Division finals

  • Lakers 119, at Atlanta 115

  • Lakers 105, at Atlanta 94

  • at Lakers 115, Atlanta 114 (OT)

  • at Lakers 133, Atlanta 114

NBA Finals

  • at New York 124, Lakers 112

  • Lakers 105, at New York 103

  • New York 111, at Lakers 108 (OT)

  • at Lakers 121, New York 115 (OT)

  • at New York 107, Lakers 100

  • at Lakers 135, New York 113

  • at New York 113, Lakers 99