This Day In Lakers History: Magic Johnson Dishes Out 21 Assists In Win Over Trail Blazers In Game 1 Of 1991 Western Conference Finals
Magic Johnson, Lakers
USA TODAY Sports

By dispatching the Golden State Warriors in five games in the second round of the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers advanced to the Western Conference Finals for a much-anticipated matchup against the No. 1 seed Portland Trail Blazers on May 18, 1991.

The Lakers were tasked with a difficult challenge in beginning the series on the road in front of a hostile crowd. But Los Angeles nevertheless jumped out to an early six-point advantage over Portland after the first 12 minutes of play.

The lead, however, would quickly evaporate as the Trail Blazers caught fire and outscored the Lakers by 13 points in the second quarter — enabling them to carry a seven-point lead into halftime.

The Lakers’ deficit would increase to 12 in the third quarter and they found themselves trailing by that same margin entering the fourth.

But from there, the Lakers’ defense clamped down and limited Portland to just 14 points. That allowed the Lakers to pull off an epic comeback and steal a 111-106 win in Game 1.

Magic Johnson created a plethora of opportunities for his teammates, as evidenced by his game-high 21 assists. He scored 15 points while sinking 11-of-13 free throw attempts and additionally picked up two steals on the defensive end as well.

James Worthy led the Lakers with 28 points, while Sam Perkins posted a double-double of his own with 18 points and 15 rebounds in 42 minutes of action.

Clyde Drexler enjoyed a vintage performance for the Trail Blazers, registering team-highs in points (28) and assists (12). He successfully converted 10-of-19 field goal attempts and was just two rebounds shy of a triple-double in 40 minutes on the court.

Jerome Kersey filled up the stat sheet with 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting in 41 minutes on the floor. He also added five boards and two assists, with one steal and one block on the opposite side.

For the Lakers, their opening victory proved crucial as they went on to upset the Trail Blazers in six games despite not having home-court advantage.