Akeem the Bad Laker Dream Olajuwon tapped the Lakers for 40 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks Friday night, although several observers weren't all that impressed.
"I'm not going to say it was my best game," Olajuwon said after getting his pro-playoff high in the Rockets' 117-109 victory. "I scored 42 points once."
"Tonight, he just shot the ball extremely well," said the Lakers' Maurice Lucas, who guarded him for about 30 of the 40. "His turnaround jumpers, I mean, he usually makes that, hell, 30% of the time. Tonight, it must have gone in 60% of the time.
"We'll certainly come out Sunday and play a totally different game . . . and see if he responds."
Is there anyone out there who still has something good to say about 40-12-2?
Oh yes, there is. There were the 16,016 in the Summit with their Jack Nicholson sunglasses. There's the coach of the team with a 2-1 lead in the series.
"Akeem reminds me of a puppy I used to have," Rocket Coach Bill Fitch said. "You throw a bone away, and the dog would go and get it. You throw the ball away, and Akeem goes after it.
"Who ever went after it like he does? Moses (Malone) in his early years. Dave Cowens. He made Rookie of the Year and led the league in floor burns before anyone knew who he was.
"What was he like when he got here? He wasn't near as good at it as he is now. Maybe he went after one in four. I used to tell him, if you'll go after every shot like it's going to miss, you'll be the greatest offensive rebounder in the history of basketball. Back when he started, when he didn't know the offense, it was a good way of getting points, because he wasn't getting his number called."
Under normal circumstances, Olajuwon is most dangerous as an offensive rebounder, although his persistence and agility lead to other bonuses, like the time Frday night he stole the ball off Magic Johnson in the backcourt, preceding another thunderous jam.
So what do the Lakers have to do, box out better?
"They do that all the time," Olajuwon said. "They don't even watch the ball. They just box me out."
Fitch: "It's not a matter of boxing him out. People box him out. And then they think the play's over."
Olajuwon wound up making 14 of his 28 shots, which took a rally, since he missed his first several.
"Oh, that is the beginning," he said. "I was trying to get my mind in the game. I was tense."
A man as outspokenly confident as Olajwuon, tense?
"I'm human," he said. "This is a very tough game for us. I'm not even thinking about that (the 2-1 series lead). We can't afford to lose at home. We have to win Sunday."
In Game 2, Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson double-teamed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, blocked four of his shots and held him to 9-for-26 from the floor. Friday, the Rockets double-teamed again.
Fitch: "Pat (Riley) did a good job. He did what he had to do. He spaced his players out, and we couldn't get back to Kareem."
Abdul-Jabbar scored 33 points. Sampson and Olajuwon picked up five fouls each, although both managed to stay in.
"He's a great player," Olajuwon said. "You have to give him credit. He's the legend.
"Does he talk to me? Yes. We just say, 'Hi,' to each other, 'How are you doing?' He knows I have a lot of respect for him."
Olajuwon first discovered Abdul-Jabbar while living in his native Nigeria, in an Ebony Magazine article. Could he ever imagine himself playing against him.
"No," he said.
Olajuwon is up to a 30-point average in this series. Call it a non-dream come true.