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Layden Concedes to Lakers and Exits

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Times Staff Writer

The Lakers leave this morning on a four-game road trip, but they’re not getting away any quicker than Utah Coach Frank Layden, who left the Lakers’ 120-112 victory over the Jazz Thursday night while the game was still going on.

Layden walked off the floor, up the Forum tunnel and out of the building with 2:23 left in the game, pausing briefly to shake the hands of several surprised Lakers on his way out.

“He said he couldn’t stand to watch this (bleep) anymore,” said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who lowered his head and laughed. “He’s funny.”

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Layden’s funny stuff began with the Lakers racing to an 18-point lead. The outcome had long since been decided.

“He didn’t say a word,” said Utah assistant coach Jerry Sloan. “Before we knew it, he was gone.”

But Layden left clues to explain his exit. Earlier in the fourth quarter, Layden received a technical foul by official Jim Capers, who quickly called another one on assistant coach Scott Layden, Frank’s son. It was probably a good thing Mrs. Layden wasn’t around to get her technical, too.

On his way out, Layden refused to explain why he was leaving other than to say: “I just want to get outta’ here.”

The Lakers are getting out of here with their 10th victory in their last 11 games, thanks to 28 points by James Worthy, 20 by Magic Johnson and a healthy 54-rebound night helped along by Kurt Rambis, who had 11, and Byron Scott, who had nine.

That was more than enough to offset 34 points by Utah’s Adrian Dantley and the 27 turnovers the Lakers committed.

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It should have been a pretty routine evening, but it wasn’t for a couple of reasons. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, limited to 18 minutes because of foul trouble, had to struggle to score 10 points and keep alive his consecutive double-figure streak, now at 573 games.

Laker Coach Pat Riley put Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson back in the game with an 18-point lead just so Abdul-Jabbar could score four more points to reach 10. Johnson was in there just to be sure Abdul-Jabbar got the ball.

“There was concern with Kareem tripping over the free-throw line and getting hurt, but that’s a helluva streak he had going and we wanted to keep it alive,” said Riley.

But Layden’s abrupt departure was what really made it an interesting evening. Layden left his son in charge of the Jazz, but never told Scott Layden he was leaving.

“He didn’t say goodby,” said the younger Layden.

Sloan, a former head coach at Chicago, said he had never left a game while it was still being played, but he didn’t blame Layden for doing it.

“I did get kicked out of a few and I had to leave,” said Sloan.

Actually, Layden is not the first Jazz coach to leave the floor during a game. Several times, early in the team’s tenure in New Orleans, Coach Bill van Breda Kolff left the bench to go sit in the stands.

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“We’ve got a rich tradition,” said Jazz trainer Don (Sparky) Sparks.

Center Mark Eaton, who blocked six shots, shook his head when asked about Layden’s exit.

“I don’t know why he left,” Eaton said. “It was unusual, but I guess he had his reasons. I thought the officials (Jim Capers and Bill Oakes) did a fair job--but I always say that.”

Johnson was playing for the first time since missing two games with a sprained right index finger. He worked 34 minutes against the Jazz, which lost for the 20th time in 22 games in the Forum, and passed out 10 assists. Michael Cooper finished with nine assists in just 22 minutes.

The Lakers were ahead, 109-91, with 5:52 to play when both Laydens received their technicals from Capers. Frank was apparently upset at some of Capers’ calls, but since he didn’t explain himself, no one really knows.

Layden first shook Riley’s hand, then assistant Coach Bill Bertka’s, then some of the players. Then he vanished into the night.

“I guess he was a little frustrated,” said Scott Layden. “All I know is I can’t even afford my $100 (technical) fine.”

Laker Notes The Lakers announced Thursday that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had signed his contract for next season, which is for a reported $2 million. Abdul-Jabbar said he actually signed the deal several days ago. Laker owner Jerry Buss signed the contract Thursday and it was sent to the NBA office in New York for league approval . . . After playing in Dallas, the Lakers are in Detroit Sunday for a nationally televised game (9 a.m., PST), in Milwaukee Tuesday night and in Boston Wednesday night. The combined home records of the four teams the Lakers play on this road trip is 51-17.

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