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One Magic Moment for Milwaukee : Inglewood’s Humphries Scores Last-Second Shot to Beat Lakers

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

For the briefest moment here Sunday night, the convergence of Michael Cooper and Magic Johnson at the top of the key seemed to envelope Milwaukee Bucks guard Jay Humphries, who had the ball and his team’s upset hopes in his possession.

That was exactly the situation the Lakers, leading by a point with 3 seconds to play, wanted the Bucks to face. Their implicit instructions were to deny the ball to Terry Cummings on the perimeter, cut off a Sidney Moncrief drive and not to let Jack Sikma within reach.

But Humphries, who once played around the corner from the Forum at Inglewood High School, split the Lakers’ trap, then pulled up and swished a 16-foot jump shot at the buzzer to lift the Bucks to a 95-94 victory before a Bradley Center crowd of 18,633 that began the night honoring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and ended it hailing the little-known Humphries.

All the Lakers, who lost guard Byron Scott early in the second quarter to a sprained right ankle, could do was wonder how Humphries found an opening between Johnson and Cooper, the club’s two best defenders.

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There was no remorse or second guessing about their defensive scheme for the final shot, because Humphries beat them with a deft move and a clutch shot.

“We wanted the ball to be on top, and we accomplished that,” Coach Pat Riley said. “We wanted nothing to go to Cummings in the corner. Somehow, (Humphries) got through in that gap and he made the shot.”

Cooper merely shook his head and called his ill-fated trap with Johnson a “fatal attraction.” Indeed, it did turn out to be the end of the Lakers’ 7-game winning streak and the continuation of the Lakers’ 4-game losing streak against the Bucks.

Although the events of the final 3 seconds were orally diagrammed and dissected on both sides, the Lakers really started to let this one slip away as early as the second quarter before staging an impressive fourth-quarter comeback.

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The first blow to the Lakers (15-4) came with 8:39 left in the first half when Scott, the Lakers’ third-leading scorer, stepped on Ricky Pierce’s foot while driving through the lane and severely sprained his right ankle.

Scott was later taken to a hospital for X-rays, which showed no fractures. Trainer Gary Vitti said there was minimal swelling in the ankle--"a good sign,” he said--but that Scott’s availability will not be known until today.

His absence for the remainder of Sunday’s game reduced the Laker roster to 9, with Abdul-Jabbar missing his seventh straight game because of a badly bruised right knee and rookie guard David Rivers in New Jersey attending his brother’s funeral.

The Laker Eight (Jeff Lamp did not shed his warmups) managed to lead, 52-48, at halftime. But then came another third-quarter fall similar to Saturday night’s collapse at Indianapolis, from which the Lakers recovered.

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This time, the Laker offense went cold and their defense was sluggish against the Bucks, who scored 12 straight points to take a 9-point lead midway through the quarter. Milwaukee built as much as an 81-71 lead on Cummings’ jump shot with 1:37 left, but the Lakers managed to cut the defict to 6 points entering the fourth quarter.

The Bucks still led, 93-88, with 4 minutes left before the Lakers roared back.

Until Humphries’ game-winning jumper, the Bucks failed to score on their next 6 possessions, thanks to an inspired Laker defense. Cummings missed a jump shot, Jack Sikma was called for an offensive foul, Humphries’ shot was blocked by James Worthy and then he missed another shot.

The Lakers converted those opportunities into 6 straight points on a Worthy drive, 2 free throws by Orlando Woolridge and a Cooper jump shot with 1:59 left. That gave the Lakers a 94-93 lead, but it was the last points they would score.

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They had the ball and the lead with less than a minute, but Woolridge fumbled a Johnson pass out of bounds with 32 seconds left.

After Worthy commited a foul on a steal attempt, resetting the 24-second clock, Johnson knocked the ball away from a driving Humphries. A.C. Green and Humphries pounced on the loose ball with 4 seconds left, forcing a jump ball at the Lakers’ end.

During a timeout, Riley instructed Green, who had a 6-inch height advantage over Humphries, to bat the ball away from the Lakers’ end to avoid a quick Buck basket. He did that, but only 1 second expired from the clock while Paul Pressey chased down the ball and called timeout in the backcourt.

So, conceivably, the Bucks had a second or two advantage on the play.

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"(The clock) is supposed to start when you hit it (on the jump ball),” Johnson said. “Definitely, it’s (critical). But it’s still a loss. What are you gonna do about it?”

Another thing the Lakers could only speculate on was how the outcome might have changed had Scott remained uninjured.

Worthy took over, scoring 21 points. Worthy, who made 10 of 21 shots, was the only Laker to attempt 10 or more shots. Mychal Thompson added 18 and Woolridge 14. But Johnson, who finished with 11 points and 12 assists, was shut out of the scoring column in the second half.

“It was tough to lose Byron tonight,” Riley said. “He’s our sticker from the outside. The Bucks did a great job of getting us out of our set.”

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Laker Notes

In the most nostalgic farewell ceremony so far for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Milwaukee Bucks held a 20-minute ceremony that highlighted his first 6 NBA seasons as a Buck. They showed a highlight film of Abdul-Jabbar’s accomplishments at Milwaukee. Among the gifts the Bucks presented to Abdul-Jabbar was a motorcycle, manufactured at Milwaukee. The Bucks also announced that they will retire Abdul-Jabbar’s jersey next season. The 41-year-old center received a 2-minute standing ovation, which turned into chants of “Lew, Lew” near the end. Abdul-Jabbar was known as Lew Alcindor when he began his career in Milwaukee. After viewing the highlight film, Abdul-Jabbar said: “I remember all the changes I went through. I had more hair then. Life’s different. Nixon was president.” . . . In a press conference before Sunday night’s game, Abdul-Jabbar talked at length about his six NBA seasons in Milwaukee. “I started my career here, and I have a lot of memories of this city,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “That makes this special. The high point, of course, was winning the championship in 1972.


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