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Lakers' Loss to Spurs Is Coldly Forgettable : Pro basketball: They shoot poorly in Alamodome as San Antonio wins its ninth in a row, 107-84.

March 30, 1995|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN ANTONIO — Remember the Alamodome!

That should be easy enough for the Lakers, who have now had two visits, two double-digit losses and two games in which they could only shoot themselves in the foot. The most recent showing, a 107-84 defeat to San Antonio on Wednesday night, slammed the brakes on their five-game winning streak and also extended the Spurs' run to a season-best nine in a row.

Dennis Rodman was a blond and the Lakers were black and blue.

"Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger and sometimes you're the ball," Coach Del Harris said.

Added Vlade Divac: "Bad night. Bad, bad."

The Lakers, who shot 41.9% in a 116-102 loss here Dec. 17, went 35.1% (33 of 94) this time. They were at 31.5% with about 10 minutes to play, on pace to challenge the franchise record of 31.2% set early last season, before picking up the pace to at least better the 1994-95 low of 34.6%.

The starters were a combined 36.7%, with Elden Campbell three of 11, Vlade Divac four of 14 and Nick Van Exel three of 10.

Among the reserves, Eddie Jones was four of 14 and Sedale Threatt two of eight.

That bad, bad.

Then again, maybe the Lakers should have seen this coming. This was the third time that they had a five-game winning streak and the third time a try for six ended with a thud.

In November, it was the 117-79 crushing at Cleveland. In January, the 129-83 debacle at Portland. Now this, before 18,027.

Left to sort through the wreckage, some Lakers looked to the sky. And the walls. And the aisles.

Reconfigured stadiums--the Kingdome in Seattle, the Metrodome in Minneapolis, the Silverdome in suburban Detroit, to name three NBA homes of the recent past--lack the familiar feeling for players. Sometimes the fans are several feet farther back from the basket than usual, causing a problem with depth perception. Sometimes it's nothing they can put a finger on.

And sometimes, it's a matter of opinion.

Add the Alamodome, in danger of becoming a big-time white elephant if the Spurs follow through on thoughts to build a separate arena after spending only two seasons in the 65,000-seat stadium. That giant blue curtain used to separate the court area from the rest of the building helps only a little.

"It's just so wide and spread out," said Cedric Ceballos, who made five of 18 shots in the mid-December meeting and six of 15 on the return visit. "Like you're playing outside instead of in a basketball arena. There's no warmth or feel of a gym."

Countered Jones: "I feel different. A rim is a rim. A basket is a basket. Either the shot's going for you or the shot's not going for you."

Jones has played in three arenas since coming back from a sprained right shoulder and found the same result. The shot's not going.

He was two of six from the field at the Forum against the Rockets and four of 14 at Houston, though the nine steals in those two victories were significant contributions. In his three games back, he is a combined 10 of 34, or 29.4%.

Ceballos, meanwhile, is 29 of 73 (39.7%) in the five games since returning from a ruptured thumb ligament in his right (shooting) hand.

"It's really difficult," Ceballos said. "But I'm not discouraged by it."

Said Harris: "They're not back. It's going to take a little time, but they'll get it. We knew that going in. They've done well for coming back."

Rodman, watching from the sidelines because of the separated right shoulder, won't be coming back until at least Sunday. Six of the victories in this streak have come despite his absence, with J.R. Reid (13 rebounds) and Terry Cummings (16 rebounds) picking up the slack.

David Robinson led all scorers with 30 points and added 16 rebounds and five blocks.

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