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Notes on a Scorecard

How could a team fall from 63-19 in the regular season to 4-5 in the playoffs? . . . That’s something the Lakers will be pondering during their longest summer vacation since 1981. . . .

But their attention should be focused on the future. The sayers of doom are convinced that the dominant NBA franchise of the 1980s is on its way to becoming the flop of the ‘90s. I say wait, not so fast. . . . The Lakers could be improved next season if Jerry Buss puts out the cash to land Sam Perkins, the talented free-agent forward from Dallas. Vlade Divac will help fill that hole in the middle after more experience, work in the weight room and instruction. James Worthy can’t possibly have another two games as bad as his last two in the Phoenix series. And, most important, Magic Johnson shows no signs of slowing down. . . .

The problem is that most of the rest of the Western Conference is getting stronger. Phoenix, San Antonio, Portland and Utah already are formidable. And even the Clippers are only an injury-free season away from respectability. . . .

What the Lakers need is a little optimism like that provided by center Ray Felix after Los Angeles was beaten by the Celtics at Boston Garden in overtime of the seventh game of the 1962 NBA finals. “Don’t worry, baby,” Felix said. “We’ll get ‘em tomorrow.” . . .

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Some of the same people who ripped Pat Riley for resting the varsity against Portland the final night of the regular season are saying his practices before the Phoenix series were too tough. . . .

And the players who grumbled about Riley this year are the same ones who grumbled about him during the championship years. . . .

Phoenix--young, talented and on a roll--figures to beat either Portland or San Antonio in the Western Conference finals. . . .

So emotional during most of the series, the Suns wisely didn’t go nuts after putting away the Lakers Tuesday at the Forum. . . .

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Look-alikes: Tom Chambers and Woody (Cheers) Harrelson. . . .

Whom haven’t the Clippers talked with about their coaching vacancy? . . .

The Dodgers’ won-loss record isn’t deceiving. They have .500 written all over them. . . .

The Cecil Fielder file: He’s only 26. He played on the same Nogales High football team in La Puente with Mark Salas, a Detroit Tiger teammate. He says he weighs 240, but he looks heavier. “He’ll hit 30 homers by accident,” says Sparky Anderson. . . .

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Nick Esasky could be the next Bruce Sutter for the Atlanta Braves. . . .

Joe Garagiola is staging the comeback of the year. . . .

Third base coaches are like offensive linemen. You only notice them when they do something wrong. . . .

Rickey Henderson, who is only 31, is going to break Ty Cobb’s American League career stolen base record any day now. . . .

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Asked about his split with Michael Nunn, manager Danny Goossen said, “Who?” . . .

Kennedy McKinney, the bantamweight gold medalist in the 1988 Olympic Games who has been trying to kick a drug habit, will continue his comeback May 29 at the Country Club in Reseda against Luis Hernandez in a six-rounder. . . .

Azumah Nelson is too good a fighter to be a 4-1 underdog to Pernell Whitaker Saturday night at Caesars Palace. . . .

I didn’t think Mike Tyson would beat Buster Douglas back into the ring. . . .

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Isn’t it about time to tear down Boston Garden? . . .

The only skater who wasn’t overworked during the Edmonton-Boston game Tuesday night and Wednesday morning was referee Don Koharski, who didn’t call a penalty from 14:38 of the second period to 2:41 of the third overtime. . . .

With Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon coming back--and several prominent high school and junior college players on the way in--only probation could keep Nevada Las Vegas from being a prohibitive choice to repeat as NCAA basketball champion. . . .

CBS can’t be happy about the Lakers and Boston Celtics being eliminated from the playoffs so early. The network’s rooting interest is now in the Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan against anybody would mean high ratings for the finals. . . .

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When the Minneapolis Lakers won their first NBA title in 1949, the final game of the championship series with Washington was played on April 13. . . .

Unbridled probably doesn’t have the versatility to win the Triple Crown. Look for Mister Frisky to come back from his Kentucky Derby disappointment to win the Preakness.


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