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NBA PLAYOFFS | LAKER NOTES

To Van Exel, No Big Call Is Not Fair

May 09, 1997|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Amid all of the attention given to whether Karl Malone would ever have a call go against him in the final seconds of a playoff game in Salt Lake City, there is this to consider:

Will Nick Van Exel ever have a big call go his way anywhere, anytime?

"I can't address that," Laker Coach Del Harris said.

Had the thought popped into his head?

"You're asking me to address that," Harris said.

Only because it seems natural. Van Exel, fined and suspended last season for going Roller Derby on an official; fined and nearly suspended this season for postgame comments in jest that referees that night were on the take; getting hit on the arm by Malone in the final seconds of Game 2, but getting no call that would have meant three free throws and the chance for a Laker win.

"I don't look at it as being like that," Van Exel said Thursday. "But if it is, that's not fair."

*

About three years after his coaching run ended in frustration, Magic Johnson said that close friend, and former rival, Larry Bird will be a success in coaching the Indiana Pacers, pointing out that their situations are different.

"I got them with 16 games to go," Johnson said of the Laker players. "They had given up already.

"He's going to meet with them now. It's up to him.

"If I had the same thing, at the beginning [instead of near the end of a season], I'd probably still be coaching. I would have had them from the beginning."

Johnson doesn't rule out the possibility that he will coach again some day. As he said Thursday:

"If I go back, then I know it's what I want to do. At the time, I didn't really want to coach."

*

Robert Horry had one problem with making all seven three-point attempts in Game 2, the most consistent playoff showing ever in the NBA.

It came in a loss.

"You don't appreciate anything like that when you lose," Horry said. "You feel like it doesn't mean anything."

Laker coaches, meanwhile, discovered while reviewing the game that Horry actually was not seven of seven from the field, as the stats indicated. They found a missed two-pointer.

"We were looking at the film," Harris said. "We rolled that back. I said, 'Whoa. Who shot that? Was that the guy who went seven for seven?' "

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