CHICAGO -- Larry Johnson, the Nevada-Las Vegas power forward who figures to be one of the top three players picked in the NBA draft June 26, felt he made a strong impression on Charlotte Hornets personnel director Allan Bristow when he auditioned for the Hornets last week.
"I went one-on-one with Bristow [a former NBA forward] and shut him out," said Johnson, who is in Chicago to undergo pre-draft testing. "I felt real good about it until I discovered that Charlotte's last two No. 1 picks-Rex Chapman and Kendall Gill, also blanked Bristow."
Asked if he could adjust to playing for a losing NBA team after enjoying unusual success at UNLV, Johnson said, "Sure, everyone would love to play with Magic [Johnson] and the Lakers. But I don't mind going to a team that's rebuilding. Look at Michael Jordan. The Bulls were a mess until he got here, and now they're playing for the title."
Evaluating Johnson as a power forward may have changed after he was measured Tuesday by NBA officials. Listed by UNLV as 6-7, the tape revealed he is only 6-5 1/2 .
* Reserve duty: Bulls reserve center Will Perdue, who has been impressive in short stretches during the playoffs, does not complain about his back-up role to veteran Bill Cartwright, who managed only six points in the opening-game loss to the Lakers.
"Phil Jackson is a defensive-oriented coach," said Perdue. "He goes according to how our team matches up defensively rather than on the offensive end. Even if I'm scoring well, the coach will always stress the defense."
* Born to be a Laker: Much has been written this week about how Magic Johnson might now be leading the Bulls rather than the Lakers if Chicago had won the coin flip in 1979, when Magic left Michigan State after his sophomore year.
But Magic stuffed this tale. "I'd have stayed in school," he said. "The only reason I came out was a chance to play with the Lakers and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]."
* Where's Harvey?: Asked if his twin brother, Harvey Grant, who plays for the Washington Bullets, was lending him moral support during the finals in Chicago, Bulls forward Horace Grant said, "I don't know where Harvey is. As far as I know, he's in Saudi Arabia."
Actually, Harvey is visiting his in-laws in Wichita, Kan.
Horace Grant also bristles when the media suggests that the Bulls are still Michael Jordan and a bunch of nobodies. "That might have been true when I first came to Chicago four years ago," Horace said, "but Michael's supporting cast has improved the last few years. That 'one-man gang' talk is a myth."
THE 1991 NBA FINALS
L.A. Lakers 93, Chicago Bulls 91
Last night, at Chicago
Tomorrow, at L.A., 9 p.m., Chs. 2, 4
Sunday, at Lakers, 7 p.m., Chs. 2, 4
Tuesday, at Lakers, 9 p.m.*, Chs. 2, 4
June 14, at Chi., 9 p.m.*, Chs. 2, 4
June 16, at Chi., 7 p.m.*, Chs. 2, 4
* -- if necessary.