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Lakers Don't Get Call; Streak Comes to End : Pro basketball: Van Exel says he was fouled on last play of 102-101 loss to Jazz.

March 15, 1994|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SALT LAKE CITY — Oh, yeah. That was really what the Lakers needed Monday night, as if all the injuries and the losing this season hadn't been enough.

At the end of a stretch in which seven of 10 games were on the road, 18 points down, they had to battle back against one of the NBA's hottest teams and its hot-tempered owner.

They stood up to the Utah Jazz and didn't shy away when owner Larry Miller forgot he was supposed to be watching the game and instead became part of it. But when the Lakers looked for help from the few impartial people in the Delta Center, the referees, they didn't get it and wound up with a 102-101 loss that ended a three-game winning streak.

Last play first: After two free throws by John Stockton with 20 seconds to play gave the Jazz the lead, the Lakers called time out. Sedale Threatt, the first option for the final shot, brought the ball upcourt, but was closed off by Jeff Hornacek, forcing a pass to Vlade Divac. Divac got the ball to Nick Van Exel on the right side with about four seconds remaining.

Van Exel headed left and, with the clock at two seconds, threw a wild shot from the top of the key that didn't come close. He thought it was because Stockton had hit his right shoulder, but the officials disagreed.

"They got an all-star player (Stockton), we don't have one," Divac said after another strong showing of 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. "That's it."

So ended the comeback from 18 points down in the first quarter, when the Jazz shot 73.9%, and 18 again in the second before the Lakers trimmed the deficit to 58-53 by halftime. The Lakers carried that momentum into the second half, taking a 60-58 lead when Threatt sank a three-pointer with 9:41 to play in the third quarter.

The Lakers led, 68-66, after Van Exel made back-to-back three-pointers--he made five overall--when Miller time started. Upset that Elden Campbell elbowed Stockton while fighting through a screen--officials instantly called a technical--the owner rose from his courtside seat not far from where the incident took place and shouted at the Laker forward.

This kind of thing is nothing new for Miller. Before the Jazz moved out of the Salt Palace before the 1991-92 season, he sat next to the opponent's bench and yelled at coaches and players so furiously that he was admonished by Commissioner David Stern.

This time, he was so upset at the 6-foot-11 Campbell that another fan grabbed Miller's arm in a restraining manner, while Coach Randy Pfund ran over from the visitors' bench to ensure the Lakers had a voice in all this.

"He swung at him (Stockton) and I just told him he should pick on somebody his own size," said Miller. "He (Campbell) said, 'Who are you (talking to)?' I said, 'You.' He came over and wanted to discuss it a little more. It was nothing serious. We had a couple untoward comments."

Miller could have been ejected, but wasn't, maybe because he didn't step over the sideline and onto the court, and maybe because he owns the building. Campbell said he was shocked at first and found the whole thing "sort of funny." And if Miller had turned it into a physical confrontation?

"KO first round," Campbell said.

It never happened, of course. The only ones not standing at the end were the Lakers.

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