"Portland does so many things so well," Laker assistant Bill Bertka said. "You've got to try to control the tempo and not get caught up in a running game." . . .
Another difference from their glorious past is that this is the first time since 1979 the Lakers have reached the conference finals without the home-court advantage. . . .
"I think the home court is worth as many as 10 to 12 points for Portland," said Frank Layden, the Utah Jazz president who is doing network radio broadcasts. "The Trail Blazers' fans give them a tremendous advantage." . . .
Layden believes that Portland is a lot more physical than last year when it lost the NBA finals to the Detroit Pistons in five games. . . .
"They learned something from that series," Layden said. "I thought they were soft. They aren't now. They bang with the best of them." . . .
Game 5 of the Laker-Warrior series was a rarity that left both coaches without complaints. . . .
"It was our best game of the season by far," Laker Coach Mike Dunleavy said after the 124-119 overtime victory Tuesday night at the Forum. "We had plenty of chances to crack and we didn't. I'm really proud of these guys." . . .
Said Warrior Coach Don Nelson: "I'm very proud of the way we played. I'm happy that we played so well throughout the series." . . .
At least the Warriors got a split. For most of the night, the scoreboards on the north and south walls of the Forum showed Golden State 111, San Antonio 98. That was Game 2 of the opening-round series played April 27. . . .
Michael Cooper will return to the Forum on Aug. 4 to play in Magic Johnson's annual United Negro College Fund game. . . .
Coop, 35, may resume his NBA career next season after spending a year in Italy. . . .
Utah's John Stockton is proof that Bob Cousy could play today. . . .
The rise of Laker rookie Elden Campbell can't hurt the NBA draft status of his former Clemson teammate, 6-foot-11 forward Dale Davis. . . .
Special teams, which were lousy last year, are getting plenty of attention from the Rams at their mini-camp. . . .
Steve Grogan is expected at Anaheim any day now. John Robinson is looking for a third quarterback. . . .
Retaliation from the field may not be the way to handle these things, but I find it difficult to sympathize with hecklers. . . .
Under the new management of R.D. Hubbard, attendance at Hollywood Park is up 17.7% from last year. . . .
Look for Best Pal to reverse the Kentucky Derby finish with Strike The Gold in the Preakness. . . .
Average age of the front row at Indianapolis--Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti--is 49. . . .
Good Guy: Dallas Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman has donated $75,000 to endow a football scholarship at UCLA. . . .
The Bruins' softball team, winner of three consecutive NCAA titles and six of the nine that have been contested, will play Central Michigan Friday at 4 p.m. in a regional game at Sunset Field. . . .
George Raveling conducted a coaching clinic in Seoul, South Korea, stopped in Los Angeles long enough to re-sign with USC, then left Wednesday for Portugal and another clinic. . . .
The appearance of Orel Hershiser attracted an overflow crowd of 8,571 at Phoenix for the Pacific Coast League game against Albuquerque Monday night. The same night, Phoenix's parent club, the San Francisco Giants, drew 7,901 for a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Candlestick Park. . . .
Quietly, Dodger relief pitcher Jim Gott is posting some good numbers. . . .
Cal Ripken is playing as if he doesn't need a rest. . . .
A tip of the hat to Ted Williams for what he finally did at Fenway Park Sunday. . . .
George Foreman will announce today a deal with HBO that includes a fight, fight commentary and a comedy special. . . .
Foreman, on why he stood in his corner between rounds of the Evander Holyfield fight: "If I sat down, I never would have been able to get up."