Lakers' post-Magic era begins with a thud

November 10, 1991|By Mark Heisler | Mark Heisler,Los Angeles Times

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- For the Los Angeles Lakers, Friday was the first night of the rest of their lives, and it wasn't pretty.

They started their post-Magic Johnson era by falling, 113-85, to the Phoenix Suns, their worst loss since April 22, 1990, when Pat Riley played the reserves in the regular-season finale at Portland.

This time, what remains of their first string absorbed the pounding.

James Worthy, trying to step up, came out firing, but missed his first nine shots and wound up four for 22.

The Lakers shot 32 percent. For the second game in a row, they were out-rebounded by 11. They are 1-3.

"I knew it was going to be either really good or really bad," coach Mike Dunleavy said, managing the smallest of smiles. "Unfortunately for us, it was the latter.

"We couldn't make any shots, whether it was too much emotion or whatever."

Dutifully, the Lakers trudged back to work.

Work is all it is for them right now.

"I think for the next two weeks, probably two months, that's basically how everybody's going to look at it," Byron Scott, new Lakers co-captain, said at the noon shootaround.

"It's just a job. You have to go there and do a job. It's not going to be fun for a while."

The Suns were ready to play, only by comparison.

"It affects everybody," a somber Cotton Fitzsimmons, coach of the Suns, said before the game.

"Y'all have to put it in words whether he was the greatest player. He was probably the player with the most charisma.

"He retired and he didn't retire of his own choosing. If he was coming to the end of the road and said, 'OK, I'm retiring,' I could handle it a little easier. I know he didn't want to retire.

"I won't enjoy this incident. A couple of incidents he didn't play, I did enjoy. He had a sprained ankle one year when I was in Kansas City. Quarter to six and he's in my whirlpool, eating two hot dogs.

"I said, 'We've got a chance tonight.'

0$ "He said, 'Don't count on it.' "

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