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Lakers Win a Nailbiter in L.A.

Mar. 25, 1964 - Although 11,728 highly partisan fans died a thousand deaths, the Lakers, on Elgin Baylor’s 22-foot jump shot in the final second, stayed alive in the Western Division semifinal playoffs tonight by scoring a 107-105 victory over the fighting St. Louis Hawks at the L.A. Sports Arena. The fantastic finish sent the clubs into a fourth game to be played in Los Angeles Saturday night.

When it was all over, the fans refused to leave. For several minutes, they just stood around, stamped their feet, and screamed.

“This might be just what we needed,” said coach Fred Schaus, who saw his club assume an 11-point margin with less than five minutes to play, then almost blow it all. “There have been many times this season, when we have lost them just like this.” Then, facetiously, he added: “Those were two NICE plays we made just before the finish.”

The Laker coach was referring to the gruesome five seconds after St. Louis’s Zelmo Beatty managed to hit only one of three free throws to cut the lead to 105-103. Dick Barnett tossed in to Leroy Ellis after the free throw. Ellis then proceeded to flip the ball to St. Louis’s Mike Farmer, and he banked it in. That tied it, but the worst was yet to come.

Ellis took the ball out, and there were 34 seconds remaining. As Schaus commented later, the center should never pass the ball inbounds against a press, but he did. Barnett grabbed the toss-in but stepped on the line, and St. Louis had the ball.

But Chico Vaughn, who hit a 35-footer during the Hawks’ amazing closing rush, took the shot, it was partly deflected, and the hustling Baylor grabbed the free ball.

With 11 seconds left, L.A. took a time-out. The Laker plan was to get Baylor in a one-on-one situation. They did, but Baylor couldn’t get free. He jumped back and flipped his jumper, which swished through just before bedlam broke loose.

It was the climax to a magnificent Baylor performance in which he scored 23 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, and made 11 assists.


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