Magic Ouster Is All It Takes to Fire Up the Lakers, 110-101

Times Staff Writer

So now we know what it takes to motivate the Lakers. Start by giving Magic Johnson two technical fouls and throw him out of the game. That's a good start.

Add four fouls on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and put him on the bench. Call two other technicals and, while you're at it, throw Mitch Kupchak out of the game for committing a flagrant foul. Do it all in the third quarter.

There. That ought to just about do it. It's so simple, really. Let the game get out of hand, allow the other team to get away with 17 straight points, then turn on the defense and win the game.

This dose for even a slight case of the blahs might be too strong for a lot of teams, but it was just right for the Lakers Friday night. In one of the strangest games in recent years, the Lakers survived a rash of technical fouls, the ejection of two players and a 14-point deficit to come back and defeat the Utah Jazz, 110-101, before a sellout crowd of 17,505 at the Forum.

The Lakers won in spite of themselves, and also because as Utah Coach Frank Layden said, they're the NBA champions. They did it without Johnson, who played only 24 minutes, and without Kupchak, who came in when Abdul-Jabbar got into foul trouble and was playing well.

Johnson, who had never been thrown out of a game before in his life, left in the third quarter when he argued about an offensive foul. "Now, I've done it all," Johnson said.

By that time, the Jazz appeared to be on its way to an upset victory. Utah held a 70-56 lead when all the Lakers could do was foul. From the beginning of the third quarter until Johnson was ejected, the Lakers had more technicals (four) than points (three).

In the first five minutes of the third quarter, officials Mike Mathis and Mike Lauerman called eight personal fouls and four technical fouls on the Lakers. It was then that Pat Riley got a little worried.

"I didn't like our chances," he said. "But the most unusual things can happen in a game, and you have to be ready for them."

Behind a pair of three-point shots by Bobby Hansen, Utah looked as if it was finally going to beat the Lakers. It appeared even more likely when Kupchak got thrown out by Mathis after he brought Karl Malone down beneath the basket on a layup attempt. Mathis called it a flagrant foul, and Kupchak was gone.

Then, in the fourth quarter, so was the Jazz. Strange team, these Lakers, who find their inspiration in the oddest places. Behind a tight defense, inspired by Michael Cooper, playing in place of Johnson, the Lakers were transformed into the type of team they so often are not. They got motivated.

The Lakers held Utah without a point for 5:33 and took a 97-92 lead. Just as suddenly as they appeared down and out, the Lakers got up and won.

They burned the Jazz with a 25-8 run and put away a game it seemed they were destined to lose in the third quarter, which was lowlighted by the ejections of Johnson and Kupchak as well as two more technical fouls on Riley and James Worthy. Johnson got the heave-ho after arguing with Lauerman.

"I'm not happy I lost my cool, but it turned out well," said Johnson, who had 11 points. "Something had to get us going, I guess. The official didn't see me get held, so I just reacted on that. I proceeded to be upset."

Kupchak was a little upset, too, about his ejection.

"I had no intention at all of hurting Karl Malone," Kupchak said. "The official just got caught up in the emotion of the game."

Abdul-Jabbar scored 25 points and blocked 5 shots for the Lakers, who got 24 points from Worthy and 23 from Byron Scott. Johnson finished with just four assists, but Cooper picked up the slack with nine assists.

Adrian Dantley, as he usually does, led the Jazz. He had 25 points. None of the Jazz was doing much scoring, however, when the Lakers struck them with their defense in the fourth quarter. If it weren't for nine points in the last two minutes, the Jazz would have had just eight points in the quarter.

"We weren't doing anything," Dantley said. "They were pressuring our guards so much, and when that happens, you have to go back-door. We didn't do that."

Maybe the Jazz isn't destined to beat the Lakers this season. It still has one more chance. So far, it has been beaten by a 60-foot shot at the buzzer by Maurice Lucas and now by a team without one of its stars for half the game.

"It was so strange," Johnson said. "I've never seen anything like it. But, all in all, we were put in a situation where we had to win. All right, I'm gone. And we still won. That says something about our team."

Layden thought that Johnson's ejection gave the Lakers just the spark they needed.

"When he left, I thought it hurt us," Layden said. "God forbid, I say anything against Magic Johnson. A lightning bolt might strike me. But maybe it was a blessing in disguise for them. They still played and they still won."

Laker Notes There was bad news Friday for Darrell Griffith, the injured free-agent guard who played with the Jazz for five years. Griffith has a stress fracture of his right foot, and doctors in Louisville removed the cast Thursday. But after X-rays Friday, another cast was put back on, and Griffith will wear it for at least two more weeks. . . . Jazz assistant coach Jerry Sloan, who played under Coach Dick Motta at Chicago, was asked what he thought about the controversy that developed in Dallas after Mark Aguirre helped Dominique Wilkins to his feet when the two collided. "The way I look at it, if you help a guy to his feet, the next thing is you're helping him dress, then driving him to the game," Sloan said. "The next thing you know, he owns you." . . . During the calendar year of 1985, the Lakers were 79-19, including playoffs. In regular-season games during 1985, the Lakers were 64-15.

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