With their roster besieged by flu, the Lakers tried occupational therapy Sunday night.
They ran a track meet on the Philadelphia 76ers, took a 22-point lead and held on to win, 115-107, before 17,505 in the Forum behind Magic Johnson’s big-time triple double: 34 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists.
The Lakers, winners of three in a row, started the night with two shaky starters, James Worthy and Byron Scott, who had missed the last two days of practice. Elden Campbell also missed practice Friday, obliging Coach Mike Dunleavy, who had missed Wednesday’s game, to attempt to participate.
Dunleavy emerged lightheaded from the drill.
“I was sick for the last game,” he said, “and I’ll be dead for this one.”
Sunday, Worthy and Scott managed 71 minutes and 34 points. What they couldn’t deliver, their old buddy did.
“Two guys were down,” Johnson said. “I had to pick it up.
“I haven’t been quite as aggressive offensively. Tonight I knew I had to be.”
The Lakers hit the 76ers with a 36-19 first period and went from there. It was either an inspirational effort, or a walkover, take your pick.
“That’s just bull, what we did in the first quarter,” the 76ers’ Charles Barkley said. “We didn’t give 110%. The numbers don’t lie.
“My rhythm was there (Barkley scored 14 of his team’s 19). You have to ask the other guys why their rhythm wasn’t there.”
The Laker lead grew to 22 in the second period. It was 16 at the half and 18 early in the fourth quarter.
Back came the 76ers. They were zone-pressing with 7-foot-7 Manute Bol guarding the basket, persuading the Lakers they would be better off firing from outside. The 76ers pulled to 97-88 when Sam Perkins tried to fool Bol with an underhand scoop shot. Perkins got the ball to the basket, but it rolled off the rim. Johnson, camped on the other side, nudged it back up on the rim, where it rolled around . . . and around . . . for a full second before dropping in.
Barkley made two-three pointers and scored 10 points in the last 2:33, but the Lakers hung on.
With the 76ers within 109-103, A.C. Green scored on a fast-break dunk.
With the 76ers within 111-105, Johnson was fouled on a drive and made two free throws.
With the 76ers within 113-107, Scott made two free throws.
The Lakers now have three days of practice before playing again. If no one else gets sick, they’ll consider it a vacation.
Vlade Divac scored 19 points, had eight rebounds and made seven of his nine shots. Said Coach Mike Dunleavy: “He’s getting better. If you play a guy, he grows as the year goes on. He’s only 23 years old.” . . . Magic Johnson on Divac: “I tell you, if he can just play like this tonight. I’ve never seen him attack the basket like he did tonight. Usually, if someone jumps out, he takes it to the other side. Tonight, he was going at them. I said, ‘Wait a minute, is that Vlade?’ ”
The Lakers came home from the last trip with a 103-point scoring average, No. 15 in the league. Since, they have begun pushing the pace and have averaged 114 points. . . . Dunleavy, on the fact his team had been rebounding well but not running: “It was worrisome. What could I do, tell them not to rebound?” . . . The loss was the 76ers’ seventh in a row in the Forum. Charles Barkley has never won a game here. Since he is the senior 76er in time of service, none of his teammates have won in a Philadelphia uniform, either. . . . Barkley scored 39 points, giving him 119 in three games. He now leads the league in scoring.
Barkley, on the theory that great players are the ones who make the players around them better: “That’s a bunch of . . . Me and Michael Jordan haven’t been fortunate to have great players surrounding us.” . . . Sixer Coach Jimmy Lynam, who went 52-91 as the Clippers’ coach, is 134-78 in Philadelphia and up to 186-189 overall. . . . The sellout was the Lakers’ second of the season. . . . Lakers next: a trip to Portland Thursday night and Golden State Friday night.