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The NBA : Tough to Pick All-Stars When They're All Stars

January 26, 1988|Gordon Edes

As well as he has played this season, it still may not be an injustice if Laker guard Byron Scott fails to be added to the Western Conference All-Star team this week.

If Scott doesn't make it, it probably will have less to do with rival guards and more with his celebrated teammates. In other words, how many Lakers can you put on one All-Star team, and whom do you leave off?

Magic Johnson already has been voted to the team as a starting guard. Sentiment alone demands that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar be chosen, as well as the reality that there isn't another Western Conference center outside of All-Star starter Akeem Olajuwon of Houston who deserves to go ahead of the Laker captain. Steve Johnson? James Edwards? James Donaldson? Be serious.

So, then, what do you do with James Worthy, who was voted an All-Star starter the last two seasons? Leave him off the team?

It's true, his numbers are down slightly from a season ago, but Worthy's value to the Lakers was never as apparent as it was when he was forced to sit out because of the tendinitis in his left knee. It's the only time all season the Lakers have struggled--they won just three of nine games--and Worthy's performance this season is all the more impressive because there are still many nights he's gone out and played hurt.

"The problem with the Lakers is that they're so great, you don't know who to put on the team," Denver Coach Doug Moe said. "Why would you leave Worthy off? When he was hurt, they lost. If he doesn't make it, that's a real joke."

Where, then, does that leave Scott, who is having by far his best season in five with the Lakers?

"He's playing great, you can't argue with that," Moe said. "But there are a lot of guys that you can't argue with. Scott's in a tough situation.

"He probably deserves it as much as anyone else, but whoever doesn't make it is going to get (robbed)."

Results of the voting will be announced today, and it's conceivable that both Scott and Worthy will be passed over for guards Dale Ellis of Seattle, Alvin Robertson of San Antonio, and Clyde Drexler of Portland, and forwards Xavier McDaniel of Seattle, Larry Nance of Phoenix and Mark Aguirre of Dallas. Two more players at each position will be added by the coaches, as well as one "wild-card" selection.

Laker fans who got their first look at the New York Knicks last Friday can begin to appreciate why Knick guard Mark Jackson is a strong favorite as the league's rookie of the year.

Jackson, the former St. John's star who was the 18th player taken in the draft, played a full 48 minutes against the Lakers, the first time he has gone the distance this season, and had 16 assists and 3 steals. Jackson has a shot at breaking Oscar Robertson's rookie record for assists, 690, and Dudley Bradley's rookie record for steals, 211.

New York Coach Rick Pitino said that Jackson's sense of anticipation makes him such a good player.

"He reads the ball well," Pitino said. "Some people don't. It's almost like guessing which pitch a guy is going to throw in baseball."

Add Knicks: Would you believe that center Patrick Ewing, who plays just under 29 minutes a game, is averaging fewer minutes a game than Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is playing 30.5?

The Boston Celtics, who will play their top two challengers in the Eastern Conference, Atlanta and Detroit, on the road this week, have lost their last 10 road meetings, counting the playoffs, against the Hawks and Pistons.

The Celtics have lost just twice by fewer than 10 points on the road, against Seattle and New York. Their eight road losses this season have been by an average of 17.1 points. And Atlanta, a half-game ahead of the Celtics for the best record in the conference, has a 17-1 record at home, the best in the league since the Lakers beat Seattle to make the SuperSonics 18-2 at home.

The reigning bad boys of the National Basketball Assn., the Detroit Pistons, are borrowing nicknames from football's renegades, the Raiders. Isiah Thomas, for example, is being called the Snake, a la ex-Raider quarterback Ken Stabler.

"Maybe we have gotten that reputation, and maybe I'll apply for the Raiders' job," Detroit Coach Chuck Daly said. "How much did (Tom) Flores make? Maybe he made more than me."

Daly kids about the outlaw label, but he's growing concerned that the officials may be watching the Pistons too closely. Rick Mahorn, for example, a central figure in the brawl that involved Michael Jordan of the Bulls, was ejected from the Pistons' game against Portland Sunday for arguing with an official.

"We've got a couple of players everybody loves to hate, but it's not a reputation I particularly like," Daly said. "It affects the way our games are officiated. In our games, officials are not looking at the numbers of players, but names."

Add Pistons: Thomas, duplicating the appearance of his good friend Magic Johnson last year, is on the cover of this month's GQ magazine. Also, a collection of Thomas' poems is scheduled to be published in October.

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