What Slump? Scott Hits 12 of 14 Shots as Lakers Win by 29
Even though Byron Scott scored 29 points Friday night, he couldn’t convince everyone that his shooting troubles were over.
“Sure, he had problems shooting,” Denver Coach Doug Moe said. “He couldn’t get enough of them up.”
Moe was playing the straight man for Scott, who delivered a 29-point punch line and turned what should have been a tense battle into nothing more than a laugher.
Scott shook off a two-game shooting slump by making 12 of 14 shots as the Lakers brought the Nuggets crashing back to earth with a 128-99 victory at the Forum.
The Nuggets had not lost a game this season, but all six of their victories had come against sub-.500 teams, which the Lakers certainly are not.
They haven’t done it with much consistency in the early going, but the Lakers started quickly to lead by 13 points after the first quarter, by 33 after three periods and by 38 at one juncture in the fourth.
The only thing left after that was for Chuck Nevitt to play, and he did just that for the last six minutes. Like Scott and the rest of the Lakers, Nevitt knew what to do with the ball. He shot it.
All in all, it was an uplifting experience for the Lakers, who have been successful even though they’ve been less than dominating.
There was one scare, when Magic Johnson jammed his left index finger trying to stop a Nugget driving past him.
“I guess I should have just let him go,” said Johnson, who wore a splint on his finger after the game.
Johnson will have X-rays taken today to see whether the injury is anything more serious than originally thought.
“It’s just a little bit swollen,” Johnson said. “I hope that’s all it is.”
Before he hurt himself, Johnson produced his first triple-double of the season. He had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists while personally leading the Laker assault.
Scott, who gave the Nuggets more trouble than anyone else, came out firing. This was Firin’ Byron, not the Misfirin’ Byron of late.
He had 15 points in the first quarter, which ended with the Lakers leading, 34-21.
After that, the Laker lead ballooned quickly. But before that, Moe was not at all fazed. He said he still had hope for the Nuggets at halftime, when they trailed, 64-51.
“I thought we were still in good shape for the second half,” Moe said. “That shows you that I have a really good feel for the way things go, doesn’t it?”
Alex English led the Nuggets with 22 points, but only four came in the second half, and that was when the game turned into a rout.
The Lakers pulled completely away from Denver in a 37-18 third quarter, which saw Los Angeles score 13 consecutive points to take an 85-57 lead. The blowout was in full force.
All the problems that had cropped up recently for the Lakers were erased once they got matched up in a nice little running game, as expected, with the Nuggets.
Scott had his own expectations, too. For one thing, he doesn’t believe in slumps.
“I don’t lose confidence,” he said. “I had a feeling that everything I threw up was going to go in. That’s what happened.”
Just about everything went right for the Lakers, who shot 55% to 36.7% for the Nuggets. The Lakers also outrebounded Denver, with Kurt Rambis contributing eight in 20 minutes.
But if the evening was something special, it was noteworthy for Scott’s comeback from his mini-slump. He made his first six shots and never looked back. Laker Coach Pat Riley said he didn’t tell Scott to shoot his way out of his slump.
“He’s the best off-guard in basketball right now,” Riley said of Scott.
Since Michael Jordan is injured, the Chicago Bulls’ star must not count in this evaluation.
“Byron’s right there with Michael as a shooter,” Riley said. “Byron’s the prototype shooting off-guard. He’s gotten so much better.”
The Nuggets have had better nights. In fact, against Dallas on Thursday night, the Nuggets had a 45-point lead. One night later, they were down by 32.
“How much of a difference is that?” Moe asked.
Exactly 77 points.
“Just checking your math,” Moe said.
Denver hung in there for a while, subtracting nine points off the Laker lead to get within 53-45 just before halftime. Then James Worthy got away for eight points in the last two minutes before intermission with a streak that included three dunks.
“The Nuggets can come back on you real quick,” Worthy said. “Fifteen points is nothing. Thirty points is a little harder.”
This time, it was impossible.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar signed his $2-million contract extension for the 1986-87 season, which means that the only thing still needed to make the deal final is for the Lakers to sign it. . . . All-Star forward Calvin Natt, who twisted his left ankle Tuesday night against Atlanta, missed his second consecutive game, but he should be ready when the Nuggets play again Tuesday against Houston. . . . Elston Turner was helped off the court in the fourth quarter and may have torn a calf muscle. . . . Magic Johnson wore his new gold sneakers for the first time this season. Called “Magics,” the sneakers are white with gold toes and gold-and-purple backs. The NBA allows the shoes since they are the Laker colors. . . . Abdul-Jabbar’s left knee, which is slightly inflamed, was examined and cleared before the game.