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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Bird's-Eye View of Lakers Still Critical Despite Record

January 20, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

Chick Hearn never takes games off. The Lakers do.

I know they won Monday, 92-89. But when you consider how close they came to losing at home against an Orlando team that has won only three of 11 games this month and was playing without Penny Hardaway, well, it was nothing for the Lakers to call Tim Hardaway about.

If you remember him, you apparently have a longer attention span than the Lakers. Tim called them soft last week, about 24 hours before they toughened up for a 108-99 victory over Hardaway's Miami Heat.

The Lakers' newfound resolve lasted one quarter Monday.

In the second quarter, they scored only two baskets, didn't score one for the final 7:16, made only one point in the final 6:45 and went into the dressing room trailing, 46-41.

Hearn couldn't quit commenting, even while being honored at halftime for broadcasting his 3,000th consecutive game.

"Let's go, Lakers," he said. "You're playing like dogs."

When the sellout crowd of 17,505 roared its assent, he added, "If they play the third quarter like they played the first half, I'm going to buy them Alpo."

The Lakers, standing in the tunnel while waiting to resume play, weren't amused.

"Pretty funny," Eddie Jones said later, failing to laugh.

They did play better in the third quarter, an occurrence they attributed not to Hearn's words at halftime but to Coach Del Harris'.

"We wanted to come out and get on 'em," Nick Van Exel said. "That's what Del was stressing."

So what happened in the fourth?

"We played bad," Kobe Bryant said. "We played bad."

If not for Bryant's acrobatic tip-in with 30.6 seconds remaining after Robert Horry had missed two free throws, it's quite possible the Lakers would have lost.

You hate to rip a team with a 30-9 record. But, believe me, this team makes it easy.

To heck with me. Believe Chick.

*

The 25th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision and Lyndon B. Johnson's death is Thursday. . . .

I'm not sure how George Foreman feels about the former, but he still mourns the latter. . . .

Foreman's most spectacular victory, one in which he knocked down Joe Frazier six times, occurred on the same day. . . . ..

He told L.A. freelance writer Steven Herbert last year that his handlers didn't tell him about LBJ's death before the fight because they knew it would affect him. . . .

One of Johnson's pet programs was the Job Corps, which taught Foreman to box and enabled him to escape Houston's Fifth Ward. . . .

"It set me up for life," Foreman told Herbert. . . .

Or at least his first half-century. . . .

Bill Caplan, a longtime Foreman associate, says Foreman plans to fight one last time--next January on his 50th birthday. . . .

For the record, the Associated Press reports that DMV records show Chick Hearn's age as 81. . . .

As youthful as he sounds, no way. The DMV's computers are hereby notified that they need a smog check. . . .

Hearn's 3,000th consecutive game was worldwide news. . . .

Christophe Carmarans wrote about it for the French sports daily, L'Equipe. . . .

The San Francisco Giants were smug about allowing free agent shortstop Jose Vizcaino to sign with the Dodgers. . . .

But the Giants must not be as set at the position as they thought. They've talked to Ozzie Smith, 43, about coming out of retirement. . . .

Looking through an old Sunkist Invitational program, promoter Al Franken saw references to Steve Scott, Valerie Brisco, Renaldo Nehemiah, Greg Foster, Billy Olson and Johnny Gray. . . .

All have retired from track and field, even Sunkist. . . .

But Franken says Gray is returning to run 880 yards at the L.A. Invitational on Feb. 6 at the Sports Arena. . . .

Now that the Winter X Games are finished, organizers can begin looking ahead to future Summer X Games. . . .

They will be in Los Angeles soon to meet with the Sports & Entertainment Commission about the possibility of bringing them here in 1999 or 2000. . . .

You say you're already tired of Super Bowl hype? . . .

It doesn't even officially begin until today's media day. . . .

I'm asking the boss to fine any of our writers who speak to Denver's offensive linemen.

*

While wondering if the spectators shouldn't be blindfolded during the ABL's next slam-dunk contest, I was thinking: The women don't have to play above the rim to prove they can play, it would be nice if we could see Bo Outlaw play more often, Chick's Alpo line was pretty funny.

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