SEATTLE — Maurice Lucas would have raised both eyebrows if he could have, but the small Band-Aid over his left eye made that out of the question Wednesday night.
"Caught the wrong end of somebody's elbow," he said.
But Lucas didn't hesitate to answer what would have sounded to the Lakers like a loaded question, inasmuch as they had just absorbed their most one-sided loss of the season, a 125-101 setback to the Seattle SuperSonics, Lucas' latest employer after a one-year stint in Los Angeles:
How does this Laker team compare to the one that featured Lucas at power forward?
"I thought they were deeper last year," he said. "They were a lot more physical and bigger.
"This Laker team now is playing with a lot of finesse and quickness. I'll just be curious to see how they hold up down the stretch."
The Lakers, playing their seventh game in the last 11 days, didn't hold up at all in the Seattle Center Coliseum, especially after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar drew three fouls in the first 7 minutes 21 seconds and Coach Pat Riley was forced to use four players at center in the first half: Abdul-Jabbar, Kurt Rambis, Mike Smrek and Frank Brickowski.
With Tom Chambers scoring 21 of his game-high 37 points and Dale Ellis tossing in 16 of his 25, Seattle opened an eight-point halftime lead, 63-55, which quickly ballooned to 15 after the SuperSonics ran off a 9-0 burst a couple of minutes into the third quarter.
The Seattle lead was 11, at 80-69, when Lucas re-entered the game for Xavier McDaniel, who finished with 28 points, and had grown to 19, at 101-82, when Lucas came out to an ovation with 8:31 to play.
In the interim, Lucas grabbed a few rebounds, overplayed on defense, threw a couple of elbows, nearly got into a tiff with Laker guard Michael Cooper--who was enduring a scoreless night--and generally kept Seattle sizzling.
Nothing personal against the Lakers, Lucas said.
"I'm playing 16 minutes a night, so I can afford to play as hard as I can, go out there and foul and not worry about it, and beat up everybody," said Lucas, who obviously is not ready to shed his enforcer reputation at this late stage of his career (he'll be 35 on Feb. 18).
Twice, Lucas mixed it up with Cooper, once after Cooper gave him a little shove under the basket after the whistle had blown and again when Lucas went a couple of feet out of his way to set an illegal pick on the Laker guard at midcourt.
"It started way before that push," Cooper said. "Lucas was a miniature bear out there."
Cooper also called Lucas "the greatest intimidator in the world." Was the comment tongue in cheek?
He nodded. "Tongue in cheek, and cheek in tongue."
Lucas, however, doesn't want anyone to get the idea that he and Cooper had parted on something less than fond terms when Lucas was let go by the Lakers.
"Me and Coop are friends. . . . " Lucas said. "Me and Coop understand each other."
The Lakers were left to try to understand how the SuperSonics failed to place anyone on the All-Star team for a game that will be played here in the Kingdome a week from next Sunday.
Chambers, a former Clipper No. 1 draft choice, is a 6-foot 10-inch forward with a guard's touch from the outside. He made 11 of 20 shots and all 15 of his free throws. Ellis, meanwhile, who came to the SuperSonics in a trade with Dallas, threw in two three-pointers, while McDaniel had 13 rebounds to go along with his 13 baskets.
Even Alton Lister, the journeyman center from Milwaukee who cost Seattle long-time favorite Jack Sikma, had a big night, grabbing 16 rebounds. Seattle had a huge advantage on the boards, 57-38. They also limited the Lakers to a 42.8% shooting night, and converted 20 L.A. turnovers into 22 points.
Magic Johnson had 24 points and 11 assists, and James Worthy had 20 points, but otherwise it was a forgettable Laker night for everyone but Smrek, who had played exactly one minute in the last nine games but scored six points, including two jams off no-look feeds from Johnson, in 13 minutes of this one.
"We always have a period of funk in January and February, but we've got to collect ourselves," Riley said. "We're just playing scattered right now."
The killing schedule, to be sure, has come into play.
"It's catching up with us," Cooper said. "I know I'm feeling the charges, the diving for the loose balls. It's all catching up, But that's the NBA."
Laker Notes The Lakers have now lost 8 of their last 12 games here. Wednesday night's game drew a record crowd of 14,634 to Seattle Center Coliseum. . . . Forward A.C. Green, who had just 6 points and 4 rebounds against Portland Tuesday night, had 10 points and 7 rebounds in this one, but in the last two weeks hasn't approached the level that caused him to move into the starting lineup ahead of Kurt Rambis. "He definitely isn't very productive right now," Coach Pat Riley said. "Teams have seen him play and know what his strengths are now. He's not getting the offensive boards and he's not getting out on the break. But I saw a couple of things I liked tonight, the way he drove to the basket a couple of times. If he does that, he'll be a little more productive."