Advertisement

SERIES NOTES

Laker Watch

Magic Wants to Return Next Year, but He Longs for a Different Role

May 03, 1996|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER and MIKE DOWNEY

Moments after losing to the Houston Rockets, Magic Johnson said the Lakers don't figure to lose him.

"Is it my last game?" he said after the Lakers were eliminated Thursday night. "No, I want to come back. If I feel in the summer that something is different, then I won't come back. But right now, I want to come back."

Just not as the same Johnson. He'd prefer to play more true point guard.

"I look forward to playing more at the point next season, whether for the Lakers or somebody else," he said.

Figure it'll be the Lakers.

Johnson spent much of his time as the Lakers' primary ballhandler, but while playing both forward spots. Actual time at point guard was minimal, probably only a little more than at center, which he took one last turn with in Game 4 in the small lineup.

*

Laker Elden Campbell, who posted career highs in eight major categories this season, finished seventh in the balloting for the most improved player award announced Thursday, receiving three votes from a nationwide media panel.

Gheorghe Muresan was the runaway winner with 50 of a possible 113 votes, becoming the fourth member of the Washington Bullets to win. The tallest player in the NBA, at 7 feet 7, he added 4.5 points to his scoring average and totaled nearly three more rebounds in six more minutes per game.

"He's a good winner." said Laker Coach Del Harris, who had lobbied for Campbell. "But I'm glad a lot of people recognized Elden's improvement, even though it was subtle. They weren't big jumps in points or rebounds, but across the board."

George McCloud of Dallas was second with 23 votes and Cleveland teammates Danny Ferry and Terrell Brandon shared third place with six each. Brian Williams of the Clippers and Toronto's Tracy Murray got four votes.

*

Winning Coach Rudy Tomjanovich: "I'm surprised how emotional I am about this. I have such respect for the Lakers, and I feared them so much.

"The Lakers really missed having a go-to guy when they needed a basket. Our big fella [Hakeem Olajuwon] was incredible. He's so amazingly consistent. I think he's the best player on the planet."

*

Kenny Smith, who killed the Lakers during the regular season, did it again.

He scored 17 points for Houston on six-for-six shooting, including four for four on three-point baskets.

"We had the mental preparation that helped us close out the other team," Smith said. "We were able to stop them on key possessions. By doing that, we kept them from making runs and making big plays."

*

A neck spasm made Clyde Drexler questionable for Game 4, but he started and played 36 minutes. He scored only six points and shot poorly, making only two of 11 field goals. Another Rocket, forward Mark Bryant, returned to the dressing room during the first half because of a tight hamstring muscle. He played only two minutes in the second half.

*

The Rockets and Lakers combined to commit the second-fewest turnovers in NBA playoff history in Game 3 with only 14, nine by the Lakers and five by Houston. The record is 13, set by Detroit and Boston on May 9, 1991. The Rockets, who had only 27 turnovers in the first three games, had 18 in Game 4. . . . Corie Blount, who did not play the first three games, was on the Laker bench but did not dress Thursday because of a sinus infection. . . . Houston is now 15-0 in playoff series after winning Game 1. . . . The Lakers have an 8-19 record after losing the first game of a playoff series. . . . The Lakers are 5-14 in must-win playoff situations on the road since moving to Los Angeles in 1960.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|