The home stand ended but the winning streak survived, barely.
The Lakers didn't have Vlade Divac. They were out-rebounded by double figures again. They committed turnovers at the end of the second and third periods, each leading to a buzzer-beating three-pointer by their opponent.
They trailed by 11 points in the fourth quarter and still beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 102-97, Sunday night in the Forum, running their post-Magic Johnson winning streak to seven games.
"We're on cloud nine," said Byron Scott, jubilant despite watching from the bench as Terry Teagle played the fourth quarter.
The Lakers finished the game with a 13-2 spurt, tying the score with 1:37 left when Larry Krystkowiak decked a driving A.C. Green and was called for a flagrant foul.
Green, the leading Laker scorer with 25 points, made one of two free throws for a 97-97 tie.
Under the flagrant foul rule, the Lakers got the ball back. Moments later, Frank Brickowski was called for holding Sam Perkins in the low post, away from the ball. With 1:22 left, Perkins made two free throws, putting the Lakers ahead to stay.
The Bucks had chances to tie, but the Lakers turned them away. On one possession, Sedale Threatt stripped the ball from former Seattle teammate and close friend Dale Ellis. Krystkowiak picked up the ball--and Threatt stripped the ball from him, too, this time coming up with it.
"No question about it," Threatt said. "I played with Dale and I played against him. If he ever goes left, he's going to come back right."
The night was the usual struggle. The Lakers started it without Divac, their best rebounder, sidelined again because of back spasms.
What are friends for? Buck Coach Del Harris, Mike Dunleavy's old boss and mentor, loaded up his front line with 6-10, 255-pound Moses Malone, 6-10 240-pound Krystkowiak, and 6-10, 240-pound Brickowski.
The Bucks hammered the Lakers on the backboards all night. In all, the Bucks scored 18 points on offensive rebounds, the Lakers seven.
Then there were the buzzer-beaters.
At the end of the first half, the Lakers had the ball with :01.7 and threw it away.
The Bucks then inbounded it to Alvin Robertson, who made a three-pointer. That cut the Lakers' eight-point lead to 54-49.
At the end of the third period, the Lakers threw the ball the length of the floor and out of bounds, this time with :01.9 left.
The Bucks inbounded it with :01 to Jeff Grayer, who threw one in from half-court. This time, a five-point Milwaukee lead grew to 84-76. It was up to 91-80 with 9:42 left when the Lakers went on a 9-0 run to get back into the game. Then they won it.
"The effort has been incredible," Dunleavy said. "Our guys could have said, 'Hey, tonight's not our night. They're throwing everything in, they're physical, they're beating us up.' There were a lot of excuses to be had, but our team doesn't want any part of them. That's why they're where they are."
For Green, stepping up to average 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench in this home stand, it was a night like many others.
In the dressing room before the game, he asked teammates who were whooping it up to watch their language.
"Are you supposed to be the mature people around here?" he asked.
But during the game, he committed all sorts of mayhem.
"That's just part of my nature," Green said. "That's just the kind of person I am. Everything's done decently and in order."
For the Lakers, everything they needed was done, one way or another. One of the more remarkable home stands in their history ended, triumphantly.
Vlade Divac's back spasms were so bad he didn't even attend the game. A Laker spokesman said Divac won't start this week's trip with the team. "I don't see it getting better," Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "I'm at a loss how to treat it. I tried not playing him. I played him light minutes. Then the other night (Friday against the Spurs) I started him in the second half and he goes down in flames. I thought he was kind of over the hump." . . . Magic Johnson's agent, Lon Rosen, said Johnson has no plans to travel with the Lakers, who start a seven-game trip that begins Tuesday in Orlando.