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It's a Bit Hairy, but Lakers Get By Sonics

March 05, 1987|GORDON EDES | Times Staff Writer

Say this about the Seattle SuperSonics, who lost, 138-124, to the Lakers Wednesday night at the Forum: They can throw more hairstyles at you than Vidal Sassoon.

Like the Grace Jones look? Try Dale Ellis' flat top.

Indiana Jones? Take Tom Chambers and his floppy locks.

Quincy Jones? Xavier McDaniel is balder.

Basketball Jones? That's got to be Eddie Johnson, who could care less that he sports what Maurice Lucas called "the old bowl look"--he's just glad to be back in the NBA after a spin in the minor leagues.

They're as wild a barbershop quartet as you'll find anywhere, and they can shoot the lights out, too--as they proved in an astonishing third quarter, when the teams totaled 87 points in 12 minutes.

Unfortunately for the SuperSonics, however, this was the night the Lakers chose to let their hair down. The Lakers may not have been able to shake Seattle by shooting a stunning 84% in the third quarter--they actually lost a point to the SuperSonics in that stretch.

But in the last 8:58, after the SuperSonics drew within 107-106, the Lakers summoned their absent defense to smother Seattle the rest of the way, 31-18.

"You knew at some point that one team had to die and cool off," said Magic Johnson, who cooled out the SuperSonics with 31 points and 19 assists, matching his season high. He also had 9 rebounds.

"There were just too many unbelievable shots being taken."

Many of them were taken by either Ellis (32 points), Chambers (22) or McDaniel, who scored 28 points, including a Dr. J-like, one-handed 10-footer over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar while hovering out of bounds.

But by the time that shot dropped, the Lakers had gotten the drop on Seattle, stopping the SuperSonics on four straight trips downcourt while scoring four straight times themselves.

James Worthy, who scored 26 points, started the run with a 10-footer in the lane, making it 109-106. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar swatted away a shot by Chambers, then scored on an in-bounds pass by Worthy.

McDaniel traveled, and Magic Johnson tossed an alley-oop pass to Abdul-Jabbar, who jammed it home.

Next time down the floor, Magic stole the ball from Ellis; Michael Cooper kept it alive during a scramble on the floor, then Abdul-Jabbar saved it from going out of bounds. The Lakers took four shots on the other end, before A.C. Green--who scored 24--rebounded a miss, and the Laker lead was 116-106.

"The way we were exchanging baskets, we knew that the first team that took a stand defensively would win," said Worthy, who could only stand helplessly in the third quarter while McDaniel made an array of tough shots over the Laker forward for a dozen points.

Laker Coach Pat Riley said he spent most of the third quarter shouting, "Defensive possession," to no avail.

"They scored six straight times, we stopped them once, then they scored on their next 12 in a row," Riley said. "It was incredible. I think on 10 of the shots they made, we were playing exceptional defense. Worthy was right in Xavier's face."

But the Lakers proved more unstoppable, making 16 of 19 shots in the third quarter and just barely slowing up in the fourth.

"We had to withstand it and we did," Riley said. "They (the SuperSonics) were rested, prepared and ready to whip us. This was a very dangerous game for us, but we came up big time."

Rookie Billy Thompson made a compelling case for more playing time against Golden State Tuesday, and Riley obviously was paying attention, because the Lakers' No. 1 draft choice was back in action Wednesday, replacing Worthy 57 seconds into the second quarter.

In 12 minutes against the Warriors, Thompson had seven points and three rebounds, but that tells only part of the story. In one two-minute span, Thompson threw in a left-handed jam on the fast break, swatted a shot by Golden State center Joe Barry Carroll into the seats and tipped in a miss by Johnson. Before that, he threaded a pass to Abdul-Jabbar for another jam. Wednesday night, Thompson made what was probably the most spectacular contribution in a dizzying display of Laker passing, saving a ball from going out of bounds by whipping a midair, behind-the-back pass to Johnson as he was falling into the crowd. Johnson completed the play by feeding Green for a jam.

Johnson, as usual, was the master passer, dishing out 12 assists in the first half. But the other Lakers got in the spirit, too. Cooper chased down a loose ball and in one motion shoveled a pass to Mychal Thompson for a jam. Green and Johnson combined for a snappy back-and-forth exchange that led to an easy basket for Green, who scored 10 points in the quarter.

And Worthy, who scored 14 points in the first quarter, left a beautiful, behind-the-head drop pass for Green for another slam-dunk.

"Billy's played well the last few games," Riley said. "I'm getting more encouraged with him. His concentration has been a lot better."

There was obviously nothing wrong with Abdul-Jabbar's concentration, either. He made 11 of 14 shots for 26 points, and has made 25 of his last 30 shots at the Forum.

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