Lakers Blast Spurs, Avenge Only Defeat

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The NBA regular season is too long and players' memories seemingly are too short for the Lakers to have succumbed to such a base emotion as revenge going into Sunday night's Forum rematch against the San Antonio Spurs.

So what if the Spurs held the distinction of being the only team to beat the Lakers so far in this young season. Losses happen.

"They had a good time on us over there," Laker forward James Worthy said. "They beat us, and that's something we remember. But I don't know about no grudge thing."

Perhaps it wasn't a grudge match, but the Lakers seemed inspired against the vastly improved Western Conference contender. In an impressive show of force, the Lakers dominated the Spurs en route to a 132-112 victory.

If the Lakers, now 10-1, still harbored memories of that eight-point setback in San Antonio Nov. 4, the slate was wiped clean Sunday night.

"We remembered that game," Magic Johnson said. "But revenge? There are too many games to have that on your mind. It's just game, whatever, 11, I think. So, you can't think like that."

Laker thinking, or so they said, instead centered on shifting their running game to overdrive and helping Mychal Thompson defend Spur rookie David Robinson. Both objectives were met.

In recording their ninth straight victory, their longest streak in two seasons, the Lakers had four of five starters score at least 20 points and received strong defensive and bench help in turning back the 6-5 Spurs.

Inspired efforts abounded, foremost among them coming from:

--Johnson, who scored 24 points and added 10 assists and performed his usual service as director of the offense. Johnson scored all but two of his points in the second and third quarters, when the Lakers dismantled the Spurs.

--Byron Scott, who also scored 24 points, 12 in the first quarter. Scott's personal highlight was a twisting reverse layup through heavy traffic in the third quarter.

--Worthy, who maintained his consistency by scoring 22 points. Worthy made five of his first six shots--all but one from long range--then seemingly let others take over the scoring load.

--A.C. Green, who had 20 points and eight rebounds. Although Green saw his double-figure rebound streak end at three games, he more than held his own against Robinson and forward Terry Cummings.

Robinson, who had 23 points and 17 rebounds in the Spurs' season-opening victory over the Lakers, had 25 points and grabbed six rebounds before fouling out with 6:38 to play. Robinson made nine of 11 shots from the field.

Ten of Robinson's points, however, came in the fourth quarter, after the Lakers had opened a 30-point lead. The Lakers kept the ball out of Robinson's hands in the low post and balanced rebounding kept him from dominating the boards.

And, for a brief stretch in the second quarter, Vlade Divac, the Lakers' Yugoslav rookie, outplayed Robinson. Divac scored seven points in the second quarter, on this night only a minor player in the Lakers' triumph.

"You have to keep a body on (Robinson) at all times, make him work for shots," Thompson said. "A lot of times, when he did get the ball in there, Earvin and Coop (Michael Cooper) were pestering him around his knees. You have to have help against him. Tonight, we had it."

The Lakers, in Coach Pat Riley's opinion, played their best game of the season Sunday. They easily set a season high for points and field-goal percentage (57.1%). The Lakers also were even with the Spurs in rebounding, 34-34, after being outrebounded, 58-39, in San Antonio.

But what Riley liked most was the Lakers' consistent running game and team defense.

"This was our best game, far and away," Riley said. "This was the first night I saw everything come together for 48 minutes. We've won a lot of games early just because of our individual talent and experience."

The Lakers' 10-1 start is one of the best in club history. The 1985-86 Lakers opened at 11-1, but Riley hedged when asked how these Lakers compare with other Laker teams.

"As the season progresses, we'll find out," Riley said. "We still have a long way to go, a lot of road games."

Johnson said: "It was one of the best we've played. We aren't concerned with putting anybody in their place. What we have to do is be concerned with ourselves and how we play. Everybody knows who is the team to beat in the Western Conference."

The Spurs certainly do.

Laker Notes

Vlade Divac, the Lakers' Yugoslav center, had a reunion with Partizan Belgrade teammate Zarko Paspalj, now with the Spurs, before Sunday's game. Divac is averaging more than 16 minutes and 7.4 points, but Paspalj has played a total of 20 minutes in the Spurs' first 10 games and is averaging 2.5 points. "Zarko is still happy to be in the U.S., but (he is) a little frustrated by no playing," Divac said. "But I know he is a good player. A very good player. (The Spurs) just have a lot of good players." Said Paspalj: "It is very strange to come here and sit on the bench. I play for (Yugoslav) national team and play 40 minutes. Now, it is tough to be on the bench. I try to practice well and learn things. If Coach (Larry Brown) gives me a chance, I will play (well)."

Paspalj said he is not surprised by Divac's early success. "Vlade is very good player," Paspalj said. "I think he is the best center in Europe. (Arvidas) Sabonis, when he is healthy, is a great center. But Vlade is very quick and has very good (offensive) moves. It is good that Divac plays for the Lakers, because he can play right away, since they need a center to (back up) Mychal Thompson."

Divac had to give up his shoe contract with Converse of Europe when he signed with the Lakers. Divac now wears Nike shoes, but is not paid for it. "I wear Converse back home," Divac said. "They pay good--for Yugoslavia." . . . Laker reserve forward Mel McCants, who suffered a strained tendon on the inside of his right foot during practice Friday, said Sunday he is able to walk on the foot with the use of a splint. "But there's still some pain and swelling," McCants said. "I'm not sure when I can (play)."

Coming off Saturday night's victory over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Laker forward James Worthy reported minor pain in his right foot and ankle, which had been bothering him earlier in the week. . . . The Lakers' 9-1 record ties their best start since the 1968-69 season. The Lakers began the season 9-1 in both the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons.

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