If they keep playing them long enough, the Kansas City Kings are certain to beat the Lakers at the Forum. Or are they?
"We should do it before the end of the century," said Frank Hamblen, the Kings' assistant coach.
At the present time, Kansas City is working on a King-sized Forum losing streak. They're 0-for-a-decade after dropping a 132-125 decision Friday night before a crowd of 14,625.
If you're counting, the Lakers have now knocked off the Kings 28 consecutive times at the Forum, a streak that includes two playoff games from last season. Kansas City has not won a game at the Forum since Oct. 20, 1974, when Pat Riley was still a Laker player.
But what the heck. Anybody can have an off-decade.
The latest Laker victory was Los Angeles' 13th straight over Kansas City, which made it close at the end but still could not take advantage of Magic Johnson's absence.
Johnson didn't play, but the Lakers didn't really need him to beat the Kings again. Johnson, who bruised his right knee against Phoenix, stayed on the bench to rest his injury.
"Today, after visiting the doctor, I was told it would be a good idea to rest for one evening," Johnson said. "I've got some medication that will help the swelling go down."
The Kings didn't go down easily, even though they seemed to be going that way earlier. The Lakers, who were breezing along with a 121-102 lead in garbage time, received a scare when the Kings got back within 127-123 with 1:01 to play.
Mike Woodson, who finished with 20 points, inspired the Kings' comeback, then short-circuited it himself. Both of Woodson's acts happened while Riley was resting four of his starters.
"We just kept plugging away," Kings Coach Phil Johnson said. "Late in the game, they had their second line in, which gave us a chance to come back."
That chance ended quickly. Ronnie Lester, who started at point guard in place of Johnson, made two free throws, then Woodson was called for a technical foul after he fouled Lester.
Bob McAdoo converted the technical-foul shot, and Lester made both of his free throws to give the Lakers a nine-point lead with 16 seconds left.
Woodson said he was angry that referee John Vanak had missed what he thought was an obvious foul.
"I thought I got wiped out by (Mitch) Kupchak, and he (Vanak) just stood there and didn't make the call," Woodson said.
Riley said Johnson would be back for Sunday's game against Portland, but he wasn't quite as sure about the wisdom of not putting his starters back in the game when the Kings got close.
"I wasn't concerned about the second team losing the lead, although I did have to show a tremendous amount of patience late in the game," Riley said.
Byron Scott led the Lakers with 30 points in 29 minutes, and James Worthy had 25 points in 31 minutes, which was the longest any Laker starter played.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar worked 30 minutes and scored 20 points after missing Wednesday night's defeat at San Antonio because of the flu.
"Kareem took a couple of days off," Riley said. "When you get this far into the season, it's good to get away from it all for a couple of days. When Kareem does that, he always comes back ready to go. I think it was obvious in San Antonio how much we need him in the lineup."
Laker Notes The Lakers' game against Portland Sunday afternoon at the Forum will be televised on Channel 2, even though several thousand tickets are unsold. The game starts at 12:30 p.m. . . . If they win three of their final five regular-season games, the Lakers would finish with 60 victories, a mark reached by only three other Laker teams. . . . Jamaal Wilkes was honored at halftime as Big Brother of the Year.