GAME 31 Vs. BOSTON
Jan. 2, 1972: Led by center Dave Cowens, the Celtics—hottest team in the East—erase most of a 24-point deficit and pull to 104-99. That's as close as they get.
GAME 32 AT CLEVELAND
Jan. 5: The Lakers dazzle observers even before the game starts by selling out the Cleveland Arena against the hapless Cavs. "It'll be different without all those empty seats," says Cleveland coach Bill Fitch. "I hope my players adjust." They do. The Cavs lead 99-94 until Chamberlain blocks lour shots in less than two minutes and the Lakers score 15 straight.
GAME 33 AT ATLANTA
Jan. 7: The easiest win of the streak. "Our best game," says Sharman. Hawk coach Richie Guerin has seen all he needs to see: "I like [the Lakers] better than the Bucks now." It's time for the big battle.
GAME 34 AT MILWAUKEE
Jan. 9: Sunday afternoon, national TV. The Lakers go flat, and Kareem goes wild. Abdul-Jabbar (above) scores 39 points as West (44), Hairston (52) and Goodrich (25) try to stop him. "It's not the streak," says Goodrich afterward. "It's the fact we lost to the team that's our biggest threat to a world title." Three months later the Lakers will get their revenge, beating the Bucks four games to two in the conference finals before knocking off" the New York Knicks for the championship.