If it's masterpieces you're interested in, go to the County Museum.
At the Forum, it's strictly painting by the numbers for the Lakers, who brushed over the Seattle SuperSonics, 112-104, Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the National Basketball Assn.'s best-of-seven Western Conference finals.
"This is not figure skating or diving," said Laker Coach Pat Riley, who perhaps was thinking of the belly-flop the Lakers took at this point in the playoffs last season, when they were beaten at home by the Houston Rockets, who then proceeded to send the Lakers home for the summer.
"You don't get awarded points for degree of difficulty. I don't care what the style is, as long as the win is there."
About that time, a camera crew crouched in front of Riley in the interview room dropped some equipment.
"Another turnover," Riley quipped. "Must be contagious."
The Lakers' 20 turnovers Tuesday--13 in the first half--may have detracted from their artistry, but there was no mistaking the bold strokes of this win:
--The Laker defense shut down Seattle's scoring troika, Dale Ellis, Xavier McDaniel and Tom Chambers, holding all three under 20 points until the game's closing moments. Ellis finished with 22, McDaniel 18 and Chambers 8.
Chambers, who had five fouls, went scoreless in the second half and finished his night by throwing a pass out of bounds. He went out of bounds again when he accused referee Ed Middleton of having made a wager on the game.
The bet here is that Chambers will hear from the league about that remark.
--The Lakers, outrebounded in Game 1, when they had only four offensive rebounds, held a 42-29 advantage on the boards Tuesday. A. C. Green had 15 points--11 in the third quarter--and 14 rebounds, his best playoff showing in his two seasons.
Meanwhile, Green's mentor, ex-Laker Maurice Lucas, had two points and four rebounds.
--Magic Johnson, who was given a 50-second standing ovation from the Forum crowd before the game for being named the league's Most Valuable Player, made sure he was heard from when the game was at its most critical stages.
There were two of those. The first was in the second quarter, when the Lakers wasted James Worthy's 19-point blitz in the first quarter to fall behind by nine, 49-40. The second came in the fourth quarter, when Seattle pulled to within a basket, 101-99, with 3:06 to go.
"This series is not going to be up and down, flashy and fancy," said Johnson, who had his third playoff triple double (20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).
"This is going to be a war."
In the fourth-quarter surge, the Lakers avoided becoming a casualty when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, harassed by a double-teaming Lucas and McDaniel, kicked the ball out to Michael Cooper just beyond the three-point line. The pass was not an automatic--Abdul-Jabbar had been pressured into a game-high six turnovers.
With time running out on the 24-second clock, Cooper let fly, and just beat the buzzer with his basket. The Laker lead was five again, 104-99.
"The last time I looked at the clock it was 12," Cooper said. "I looked into Kareem, and I could tell by the crowd that time was running out, so I put it up."
With 2:19 to go, Nate McMillan made one of two free throws to make it 104-100.
That's when Magic Johnson drove to the basket, was fouled by McMillan, and made one of his free throws to give the Lakers a five-point lead, 105-100, with 2:05 to go.
Byron Scott stole Eddie Johnson's pass on Seattle's next trip, but misfired on the other end.
When McDaniel missed, however, the long rebound came out to Magic, who went coast-to-coast and was fouled. He converted two more free throws to give the Lakers a seven-point lead, 107-100, with 1:14 to go.
He made one more drive through the Seattle defense for the basket that sealed it with 47 seconds left.
Worthy finished with 30 points to lead the Lakers.
"We were going good until we made all those turnovers," said Magic Johnson, referring to a stretch of four straight Laker giveaways that enabled Seattle to pull ahead in the second quarter.
"I was just making passes then. But then we got down by nine, and I said, 'Oh-oh, it's about that time.' That's when I started getting more aggressive on offense."
Two straight drives to the basket by Magic, and the Seattle lead was five, 49-44. Abdul-Jabbar, who finished with 16 points, scored on another drive to make it a three-point game.
Johnson then slapped the ball out of Chambers' hands as he was going up for a shot, and Cooper jammed it home on a breakaway basket to cut it to one, 49-48.
Cooper and Magic double-teamed Ellis, forcing another turnover, and Cooper went in for the layup that gave the Lakers the lead, 50-49.
It was 56-55 at the half. The Lakers, with Green doing most of the work inside, went ahead by as many as eight points in the third quarter, which ended with Los Angeles holding an 83-77 lead.
Magic Johnson then made his final push of the night, scoring 12 points in the last dozen minutes.
"They were doubling me a lot," he said. "Every time I got the ball, they were doubling me, especially when I posted up. So I became a passer.
" . . . (But) I took over at the right time."
Seattle Coach Bernie Bickerstaff is still hoping that the SuperSonics' time will come.
"We're going to give them a run for their money," he said.
If they don't, on Saturday it won't be Seattle Slew but Seattle slain.
Laker Notes Seattle's comeback from a 10-point deficit in the first quarter was fueled by well-traveled guard Eddie Johnson, who was the All-Star MVP this season--in the Continental Basketball Assn. Johnson, who starred for the Atlanta Hawks before his career unraveled due to drug problems, had 15 points, 10 in the first half. . . . James Worthy's 30 points were his playoff high this spring. He has led the Lakers in scoring in 6 of their 10 playoff games. He victimized Tom Chambers for 19 points in the first quarter, when he made all eight of his shots. He scored 13 straight points, and at one time had outscored Seattle, 15-14. . . . The Lakers will not practice today. The SuperSonics, meanwhile, are flying home.