Lakers Leave Spurs Reeling in 135-88 Win : San Antonio's Rebounders Come Away Empty-Handed

Times Staff Writer

After losing by a mere 47 points, maybe it's time for the San Antonio Spurs to change their priorities and think a little smaller.

Instead of wondering if they can win a game against the Lakers, a better question now for the Spurs is this:

Can they get a rebound?

And while we're on the subject of rebounding, another good question is whether the Spurs should come back to play the Lakers again or if they ought to just slink off into the night and forget the whole thing.

"Come Saturday, we'll see an entirely different Spurs team," Maurice Lucas said.

That might be a good idea. The Lakers hung a 135-88 blowout on San Antonio Thursday night in the opening game of their best-of-five playoff series, which was such a chilling crusher that even the talkative Pat Riley seemed at a rare loss for words.

"The game speaks for itself," the Laker coach said.

There was much to be said about the Lakers, who came up with their largest playoff margin of victory in 13 years. They shot 66.3%, an NBA playoff record, and completely dominated the Spurs, who looked as though they had no business in postseason play.

San Antonio, which catapulted into the playoffs by losing 21 of its last 26 games, finished with more turnovers than rebounds.

The Spurs went the entire second quarter without a single rebound and finished with only 18, which is an all-time NBA playoff low.

"They were awful good, and we were just awful," Spur Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons said. "If the commissioner hasn't cancelled the game on Saturday, we'll be back."

Rarely have the Lakers played better. They led by 10 after one quarter, by 22 at halftime, by 21 after three quarters and then thoroughly embarrassed the Spurs by outscoring them, 38-12, in the fourth quarter.

"When things are going perfect, there's not much the other team can do," Lucas said.

Byron Scott led the Laker onslaught with 24 points in 29 minutes, and James Worthy was next with 18 points while making all seven of his shots.

Magic Johnson finished with 18 assists to lead a Laker fast break against which the Spurs were totally defenseless. Part of the reason why were their 24 turnovers, another was their lack of rebounding, and still another was the Laker defense that made the whole thing work.

"We've got to keep the tempo up," said Johnson, who admitted it might be difficult for the Lakers to show much improvement from Game 1.

"It would be hard for any team to play better than we did tonight," he said.

At the same time, it would be hard for the Spurs to play much worse. San Antonio limited its problems to two areas--when they had the ball and when they didn't. Even when they had it, they didn't keep it very long.

The Spurs should have known they were in deep trouble when they went the whole second quarter without getting one rebound. They dropped completely out of sight even though Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spent much of the first half on the bench because of foul trouble.

By halftime, the Lakers had outrebounded the Spurs, 22-4. It didn't get much better the rest of the way. Artis Gilmore, the Spurs' 7-2 center, had only one rebound in 31 minutes.

Actually, that was one more than Abdul-Jabbar managed in 22 minutes, but the Lakers missed so few shots, there really weren't that many to go around, anyway.

Kurt Rambis picked up eight in only 21 minutes, while both Lucas and A. C. Green had seven coming of the bench.

When Abdul-Jabbar went out, Riley showed no hesitation in using Petur Gudmundsson, who played well even though he showed he has mastered the art of fouling. Gudmundsson fouled out in only 17 minutes, but while he was in the game, the Lakers were able to increase their lead.

Riley said he is very glad to have Gudmundsson around to set 270-pound picks.

"It's like somebody dropped him out of the sky for us," Riley said.

Meanwhile, the Forum roof fell on the Spurs, who seemed to have difficulty turning things around after their late-season swoon.

"I know one thing," Magic said. "It's difficult switching gears after losing all those games."

It's probably not going to get any easier either.

Laker Notes Mike Mitchell led the Spurs with 24 points, but he had 6 turnovers . . . Michael Cooper sprained his right ring finger, but it didn't stop him from making a three-pointer. Maurice Lucas also twisted his left ankle, but neither Laker injury is believed to be serious . . . San Antonio Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons said he was surprised the Spurs were unable to be competitive. "If we don't rebound better and cut down on our turnovers, it'll be the same thing Saturday," he said . . . Game 2 in this best-of-five series is at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Forum.

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