Lakers put NBA Finals touch on Pistons

December 06, 1990|By Mark Heisler | Mark Heisler,Los Angeles Times

INGLEWOOD,CALIF. — INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers, having surmounted all other recent obstacles, underwent the hardest test the National Basketball Association has to offer, trial by Bad Boys.

Who was baddest Tuesday night? The Lakers and it wasn't close, either. James Worthy scored 23 points, Magic Johnson turned in his fifth triple-double and they routed the Detroit Pistons, 114-90, before 17,505 at the Great Western Forum.

The Lakers have won seven in a row after their 2-5 start.

Byron Scott made seven of nine shots and is now 20 for his last 24. Terry Teagle came out of a season-long slump with a five-for-nine second half.

"We didn't see a good team," Piston coach Chuck Daly said. "We saw a great team . . . They are possibly better than ever before. "

Said Isiah Thomas, "It seemed like we were playing a regular-season game and the Lakers were playing for the NBA Finals."

Pistons being Pistons, this wasn't accomplished without a near-riot. Worthy and Bill Laimbeer bumped chests after Laimbeer did one of his Bad Boy specials, a two-handed rake of Worthy's shoulders while Worthy was making a layup. The players were pulled apart by many of their teammates and each was assessed a technical foul, although no punches were thrown.

"Typical Laimbeer," coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He has a chance to take a foul, he's going to accentuate it. He's going to give it a little extra."

Also, Mark Aguirre, a noted heavyweight, started snarling at A.C. Green late in the game, but Green merely waved him off. Aguirre got another technical and the Pistons finished getting carried off on their shields.

"Pretty quality win," Dunleavy said. "I couldn't ask for a finer game."

Quality, indeed. The Pistons hadn't been beaten that badly since Dec. 2, 1989.

The Pistons rode into the night almost victoriously. They were 13-3, although Daly, the self-described "optimist with experience," spotted danger on the horizon in the form of a long road trip that began Saturday at Washington and includes five games in eight days.

"I'm a little surprised at our start, frankly," Daly said before the game. "I was a little concerned. But it's not over yet.

"Last year we were 13-10 after 23 games. Hopefully, we can do a little better this time."

The game began at a furious pace and speeded up from there. The Lakers scored on nine of their first 12 possessions . . . and led, 20-19. Worthy had 15 points in the first period and the Lakers led . . . 28-27.

The teams were still matching each other haymaker for haymaker in mid-second period when Dunleavy put out a unit with four starters plus Green. That group held the Pistons to 1-for-11 shooting, and Johnson led, or created, or wrote, produced and directed a 9-0 spurt. He scored six of the points and hit Sam Perkins for a layup on a three-point play as the Lakers grabbed a 55-44 halftime lead.

L Johnson finished with 21 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds.

It was 76-61 late in the third period when Perkins blocked two consecutive shots, one by Thomas, then by Aguirre, triggering the fast break that triggered a near-riot.

Worthy was going to the basket against Laimbeer, who raked him with both arms as Worthy scored on a layup. Worthy spun around and confronted Laimbeer, and the two had to be pulled apart by about a dozen of their teammates. Worthy pointed at Laimbeer several times, the crowd chanted an impolite suggestion to the Pistons center, Worthy made his free throw and the Lakers went on to grab an 83-63 lead at the end of the third period.

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