Did the Lakers Really Win 33 in a Row?

On Sunday, January 2, 1972, the Boston Celtics traveled to Los Angeles where they played a regular season basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Big Whoop, right? This had happened dozens of times before, only during the NBA Finals when the stakes were higher, much higher. Yet the stakes were plenty high as far as the NBA was concerned.

The Lakers entered the Celtics' games having won a record 30 in a row. Seven days later the Purple were scheduled for a rematch with the defending NBA champions, Milwaukee Bucks, who the Lakers had defeated during an earlier regular season contest. That game was in LA. The next game was in Wisconsin. The next Bucks-Lakers game was already being touted as the Super Bowl of basketball, and would be broadcast on national TV.

Too bad Tommy Heinsohn and the Boston Celtics had other ideas. The Celtics took immediate command of the game. Then the refs took over. Before the second quarter came to an end, the refs had given the Lakers 27 foul shots, while the Celtics had taken 8. The second half was a repeat of the first.

"Havlicek didn't shoot a free throw until the last minute of the third quarter," Celtics coach Tommy Heinsohn complained. "Pretty damn amazing for a guy who handles the ball sixty-percent of the time."

Oddly enough, the league got what it wanted. The Lakers won the game and the next two, heading into Milwaukee not having lost since October. The Bucks crushed the Lakers, 120-104, and the game wasn't even as close as the score. So the streak officially came to an end at 33.

Celtics Nation says the streak ended at 30.

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