PORTLAND, Ore. — For a playoff series, the normal mystery and suspense have been sadly lacking with the Lakers and Portland, but now there may be at least a glimmer of controversy to liven things up.
Will Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attempt a shot from well beyond the three-point line, somewhere near midcourt?
Will James Worthy reverse his dribble, throw a behind-the-back pass to his left hand and then Alley-Oop the ball to himself?
And, if so, will Portland's Kenny Carr then be correct in his judgment that the Lakers really are trying to show up the Trail Blazers?
Carr accused the Lakers of trying to do just that after Game 2, a 134-118 Laker blowout Tuesday night, in which Abdul-Jabbar faked a three-point attempt and Worthy tried a behind-the-back pass.
Laker Coach Pat Riley said that Carr's criticism reveals only that his frustration is showing. That is certainly understandable when a team is looking down the short end of a 0-2 playoff series.
"They are a team looking for something, anything, that will stir them up," said Riley, who defended the actions of his players.
"Kareem has faked a shot like that before, and Worthy's behind-the-back pass was the only one he could make in that situation," he said. "If we wanted to show them up, I wouldn't be sitting people down for 14-16 minutes in the second half. But I think Carr has set the tone for what we can expect."
The Trail Blazers may be angry, but they also have a chance to get even when the best-of-seven conference semifinal resumes tonight and continues Sunday afternoon on their home court with Games 3 and 4.
Very little has gone right for Portland in two games. In the first, the Trail Blazers trailed by 28 points at halftime, and in Game 2, they were down by 17 at the half.
Early blowouts have been common in the Lakers' five playoff games and have led to chants of, "We want Boston," from the Forum crowds. Riley is more concerned about those three words affecting his players than he is about Carr's.
"That can be dangerous," Riley said. "Everybody is taking us for granted, that we're supposed to be in the finals. I hated to hear that 'We want Boston' cry. All those seeds have been planted for us to lose focus."
Riley has worked hard, since before the Phoenix series began, to keep his players from thinking too far ahead. But after five victories in five games, even Riley is not immune to thinking big.
"There's nobody that can stop us but ourselves," he said. "We're at a point where all the things we do well, we're doing very well. We've had five great games."
So whatever Carr has to say about what the Lakers have done to the Trail Blazers, Riley said he isn't really surprised.
"If that's what they need to conjure up, I guess it's OK with me," he said.
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers, who have shown little togetherness in their play so far, can't seem to agree on whether they should be upset by the alleged acts of Laker indiscretion in Game 2.
"Didn't bother me," Clyde Drexler said. "They were so far ahead, they can do what they want. I don't think there was anything to it."
The Lakers have had more to do with it, of course, and one of the reasons is a key change in the matchups at guard. During the regular season, Portland's guards out-rebounded the Laker backcourt, so Riley has moved Magic Johnson over to defend against Darnell Valentine.
Using his eight-inch height advantage, Johnson had 16 rebounds in the first two games. The matchup only works if 6-5 Byron Scott can stay with the 6-7 Drexler, which he has been able to do in the first two games.
Jim Paxson, another Portland guard, thinks nothing will matter if the Trail Blazers don't begin to put together consecutive quarters of consistent play.
"We've had about a quarter and a half so far," Paxson said. "I just don't know where it's going to come from. We're going to be better on our home court, but the way the Lakers are playing, it might not matter where the game is."
Laker Notes Tipoff for Game 3 tonight will be 7:30. . . . The Trail Blazers have won 13 straight and 19 of their last 20 at Memorial Coliseum, which has been sold out for 355 consecutive games. . . . Four of the five Laker playoff victories have been at the Forum. They got their only road win at Phoenix against the undermanned Suns. . . . The Lakers have won 11 games in a row, counting a six-game streak at the end of the regular season. . . . Center Sam Bowie had 22 points and 20 rebounds in Portland's last regular-season game against the Lakers, but in the first two playoff games against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bowie had a total of 12 points and 12 rebounds.