As advertised, the Portland Trail Blazers played better Tuesday night, but not nearly good enough to beat the Lakers, who still haven’t had a bad game, or anything remotely like one, in the playoffs.
The Lakers took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven conference semifinal series against Portland with a 134-118 victory at the Forum, a game that was close until the second quarter.
And while getting steamrolled for the second consecutive game didn’t feel too good, Portland forward Kenny Carr was even more upset about the manner in which it happened.
Carr accused the Lakers, especially Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, of trying to show up the Trail Blazers. Carr was not pleased by Abdul-Jabbar’s fake of a three-point attempt when the rout was in full progress.
“That was bush league,” Carr said. “He’s been around long enough to show a little more class than that. But antics like that, you just have to look past.”
When asked whether he was serious about attempting a three-point shot, Abdul-Jabbar said he really wasn’t.
“But that was a serious fake,” he said.
The Trail Blazers also didn’t appreciate James Worthy’s behind-the-back pass on a breakaway. But Worthy denied that the Lakers were trying to make the Trail Blazers feel any worse than they already did.
“We’re just into these games emotionally,” he said. “I don’t think we were out of control.”
The same cannot be said of this playoff series to date. If the Trail Blazers are looking for bright spots, which they definitely are, there don’t appear to be too many for Coach Jack Ramsay’s team.
The only pieces of encouraging news are that the series moves to Portland for the next two games and that Byron Scott has stopped shooting at least until then.
Scott has been waiting for a place to happen and found one in front of the sellout crowd of 17,505. He scored 31 points on breakaway dunks and a string of jump shots that put Portland away before halftime.
The end came early and quickly for the Trail Blazers when the Lakers split the game open with a 21-1 outburst that began four minutes into the second quarter.
“Right now, I’m shooting really well,” said Scott, whose confidence ranked second only to his offense. “I shoot pretty good from everywhere on the floor. I feel like I should make all my shots and I get upset when I miss.”
Scott made 13 of 17 field-goal attempts, which more than compensated for Bob McAdoo, who missed all seven of his shots.
Scott got 12 of his points in the second quarter, 10 of them in the Lakers’ 21-1 streak that ballooned a 41-40 lead to a 62-41 in just more than four minutes.
By the half, the Lakers were ahead, 69-52, and the Trail Blazers were left wondering how to pick up the pieces in Game 3.
“We’re going to have to play a lot better if we hope to win a game,” Portland guard Jim Paxson said. “No one likes to get beaten like that in two games.”
The ball was certainly bouncing the right way for the Lakers in the first half. On one possession, Trail Blazer defenders twice knocked the ball away from Laker shooters, but it still wound up in Worthy’s hands, and he finished the play with a jumper from the free-throw line.
The line proved to be a good place for Worthy to be. A little later, his free-throw attempt hit the front rim and nearly bounced over the backboard, but it fell back through.
Michael Cooper even got high enough to block a shot by Sam Bowie, who had picked up three fouls by the time the Lakers were holding a 62-42 lead.
Bowie avoided fouling out, but Carr didn’t. Carr worked only 28 minutes yet came through with 17 points and 12 rebounds, which might at least give the Trail Blazers something on which to build.
Kiki Vandeweghe scored 23 points and Clyde Drexler, playing with a sore back, got 21, while Audie Norris scored 15 points in 21 minutes. That was about it for the Portland offense, but the Trail Blazers’ defense hurt them even more.
Seven Lakers scored in double figures and Magic Johnson missed a triple-double by one rebound. He finished with 19 points, 18 assists and 9 rebounds.
Johnson did not, however, conclude that Portland was finished.
“Right now, it feels pretty good, but you can’t soak in this goodness forever. We’re only up 2-0 and we’re going to Portland, so it’s only going to get tougher.”
Bowie was a non-factor again with just five points and five rebounds in 26 minutes, but Vandeweghe said the Trail Blazers cannot afford to get down on themselves just yet.
“When we get them to our place, well, it’s a tough place to play,” he said. “We’ve been blown out two games, but it’s just two games. We have to turn it around. I just don’t know how we’re going to do it.”