The Lakers won their 50th game of the season Thursday night. Maurice Lucas got into a fight. Sooner or later, you expected both to happen, didn't you?
Actually, it's been a long dry spell for Lucas, who hasn't tangled with anybody at the Forum since he shoved Robert Parish over a table in a preseason game.
But early in the fourth quarter, while the Lakers were busy beating the Seattle SuperSonics, 105-92, Lucas was busy throwing elbows with Tom Chambers first and then Danny Vranes.
It really wasn't much of a fight, but then it wasn't much of a game either. Not after halftime, anyway, when the Lakers used 17 of Magic Johnson's 27 points to subdue the SuperSonics for their seventh consecutive victory.
Neither Lucas nor Chambers witnessed the end of the game. They were both ejected for their parts in a brief, but wild pileup two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Accounts of what caused the confrontation are rather sketchy, but it seems that Lucas and Chambers were exchanging head-high elbows running downcourt, then Lucas hit the floor with Vranes and socked him in the head when he was exiting the pile.
Lucas and Chambers are automatically fined $250 for their ejections, plus whatever additional fine the league office may decide to add. Lucas is expecting the worst. The videotape of the game will be sent to Rod Thorn, the league's vice president of operations.
"With my reputation it's always guilty before I'm proven innocent," he said. "It was retaliation for me. He shot me an elbow right on the lip."
According to Chambers, he was the victim of a mugging.
"I was running down the court and he hit me," said Chambers. "The next thing I know he tackled me and everything went crazy. Did I instigate anything? Against Maurice Lucas? Why would I do something like that?"
Chambers was also the unlucky participant in another fight on Feb. 19 when Detroit's Rick Mahorn hit him and Chambers hit back. Chambers was fined $750 for that one.
"I'm getting tired of getting kicked out of games just trying to play basketball," he said. "This is the second time. You get thugs like Mahorn and Lucas who just want to hurt you."
Lucas, who was fined $1,000 in the Parish incident, defended his action against Chambers.
"I'm not going to take any crap," he said.
Until the momentary loss of cool, the Lakers were having little trouble with the SuperSonics, whose hopes for the playoffs pretty much ended with their latest defeat.
The Lakers started slowly with a 20-point first quarter, but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 12 of his 20 points in the second quarter after a scoreless first period and the Lakers went up by nine at the half.
Johnson helped build the Laker lead to 81-63 at the end of the third quarter when his jumper began to fall, which coincided nicely with the Laker running game. Johnson finished with 13 assists.
"We thought we could get a little run on them," said Laker Coach Pat Riley. "We couldn't allow ourselves to get frustrated. They play us so tough because you have to be so patient with them and we sometimes get stagnant."
The Lakers' 50th victory was a milestone they knew they'd reach sometime this season, they just didn't know when. History tells them it does happen, though.
It was the seventh consecutive season they've reached the 50-victory mark. In their last six seasons, the Lakers have averaged 57 1/2 wins. All the Lakers have to do now to get to 60 is to win 10 of their final 16 games. And 12 more victories would tie last season's record of 62-wins.
Byron Scott said he is not yet impressed.
"I don't think any of us really thought much about winning 50, since we had 62 last year," he said. "So 50 isn't much. Now, 60, well, that would be a milestone."
Riley said there will come a time when such milestones are better appreciated by the Lakers.
"There'll be a day when No. 33 leaves here that winning the Pacific Division will be a primary goal," he said. "We shouldn't ever take winning 50 games or the Pacific Division for granted. Right now, it's not much, like ho-hum."
At least Lucas and Chambers made sure No. 50 didn't pass by this time as little more than a ho-hummer.
Laker Notes The condition of Seattle television announcer Jimmie Jones, who suffered a heart attack Wednesday, was upgraded Thursday to serious but stable. Jones is in Centinela Hospital. . . . Do the Lakers play worse against poorer teams? Apparently they do. Here's how the Lakers' 50-16 record breaks down: 28-8 against teams who are .500 or better and 22-8 against teams below .500. . . . Last season at this point, the Lakers were 48-18. . . . San Antonio lost to Boston Thursday night but is only a half game out of the eighth playoff spot, currently held by Sacramento. Whoever finishes eighth meets the Lakers in a best-of-five first round series.