I am a lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, and my memories of watching the Showtime Lakers with my step-father are precious to me. When Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV, I was devastated. I loved Magic, but I also loved Nick Van Exel and Cedric Ceballos and Eddie Jones.
I only bring this up because I want to stress how unbiased I am being when I say the following:
Something not right happened in this game.
The Lakers had been down 24 to the Sacramento Kings in the first half in Los Angeles. The Lakers were moments away from going down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals at home. And somehow, they came all the way back.
Bill Simmons has a theory about how the NBA manipulates important games by sending their lesser referees to playoff games in which the league "needs" the home team to win, because the lower caliber referees are susceptible to home-crowd momentum, a theory that has subsequently been validated by the revelations of the Tim Donaghy scandal, as well as the research done by Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim in their book Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports are Played.
Taking nothing away from Robert Horry, whose shot was amazing, the game nevertheless swung the momentum in the series in L.A.'s favor, and they eventually got back to the NBA Finals and destroyed the New Jersey Nets.
Meanwhile, Sacramento, which had an amazing and exciting young team, reached their pinnacle and would never be back. The Kings, at last glance, are on their way to Anaheim.