DALLAS — The Lakers had a wonderful time Saturday night. They came back from getting blown out at Phoenix by blowing out the Dallas Mavericks, 125-106, in front of 17,007 spectators in a sold-out Reunion Arena.
On second thought, better make that 17,008.
Dallas Coach Dick Motta watched most of the game on a television set in the locker room. His seat was provided for him by official Dick Bavetta.
Motta didn't miss much--if you don't count 25 points by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 16 assists by Magic Johnson, 12 blocked shots by the Lakers, 59.5% Laker shooting and near-domination from the time of Motta's exit.
Motta got the hook from Bavetta, who called two quick technical fouls on him early in the second quarter and threw Motta out of the game. The Lakers led by 14 at that point.
"I have that privilege (to leave)," Motta said. "The players can't do that. I had a pop, put my feet up and watched the game."
He also left the Mavericks around to suffer by themselves. By halftime, the Lakers led by 21 points. After three quarters, they led by 26.
If Motta got himself booted to fire up the Mavericks, which he denied doing, then it wasn't much of a plan, even if he did.
"It was time to go," Motta said. "Nothing was planned. I had just seen enough. I didn't like the way the game was being 'administered.' "
Motta's little outburst will cost him at least $250, maybe more. Official Lee Jones requested a tape of the game to send to the NBA office. What it will show, besides the Lakers steamrolling the Mavericks, is something the league probably won't like.
After Bavetta called the first technical, Motta walked out onto the court, which is an immediate technical foul. Motta stuck his jaw into the face of Jones, who was the official Motta had been jumping on from the start of the game.
"He walked into my finger," Motta said. "My finger got contaminated."
Accidentally or not, Motta then knocked the whistle out of Jones' hands.
"He probably dropped it," Motta said.
Jones wouldn't comment on what happened, except to say he would send a tape of the incident to the league office.
"What I say and what the league will see on the tape might be two different things, so I'll let them figure it out," Jones said.
Just two weeks ago, Houston Coach Bill Fitch was fined and suspended for two games when he bumped official Paul Mihalak and stole his whistle.
When Motta lost his cool, it was an ugly scene, but no prettier than what the Lakers were doing to the Mavericks.
Everybody played, everybody scored and everybody rebounded for the Lakers, which as Coach Pat Riley said afterward, wasn't too bad a thing to happen after losing by 12 points at Phoenix the last time out.
"Our mental approach was 8,000% better," Riley said. "This team always bounces back."
Abdul-Jabbar, who shot only 5 for 15 against the Suns, bounced back better than anyone. He made 11 of 17 shots, took down 12 rebounds and blocked 4 shots.
Since five other Lakers scored in double figures, that was more than enough to offset a 33-point outburst by the Mavericks' Mark Aguirre, who said he was too busy playing to notice what his coach was up to.
"I wasn't into what was happening," Aguirre said. "He was upset, but you expect that from coaches."
You certainly expect that from Motta. This was Motta's first ejection of the season, but it brought his number of technicals to 15.
Motta also solidified his hold on second place in the technical foul derby among active coaches. Motta has 281, but he still trails Chicago's Kevin Loughery, who believes 'referee' is a dirty, seven-letter word.
The Mavericks rallied briefly after Motta left, cutting the Laker lead to eight points, but the Lakers scored the next 11 times they had the ball and increased their advantage to 70-50 just before the half.
Johnson, Larry Spriggs, Michael Cooper and Abdul-Jabbar did most of the damage in that Laker streak, which pretty much ended the game by halftime. The Mavericks got no closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
"We just kept hitting them with the fast-break," Johnson said. "It was at its best."
The Lakers scored 40 points on 23 fast breaks while Dallas got 12 points on only eight fast-breaks.
Actually, you'd better make that nine fast breaks, counting Motta's.