NBA PLAYOFFS : Lakers Get In the First Rip : Western Conference: Los Angeles comes from behind in fourth quarter to win series opener, 111-106.

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Fear gripped this city Saturday.

Trouble arrived and it wasn’t anything they knew how to deal with, such as a proposal to soften the water or more immigrants from California.

The Trail Blazers lost.

At home.

In the opener of the Western Conference finals.

To the Lakers.

How much can one high-on-basketball community take? The beloved Trail Blazers held a 12-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but the Lakers stormed back to win, 111-106, for a 1-0 series lead.


The series is young, but for one day at least, local hopes of payback for past Laker domination remain unfulfilled.

What happened in that 31-14 fourth quarter was made up of many parts, including: Vlade Divac getting even instead of running to the nearest referee; Mike Dunleavy trying a three-guard lineup because nothing else had worked; Magic Johnson getting the last six assists of his 21.

For their piece de resistance, the Lakers put on a clinic in ball movement at crunch time, swinging it from Johnson to James Worthy to Sam Perkins, whose dunk for points Nos. 110 and 111 beat the shot clock and the Trail Blazers, too.

“It was a great game,” Dunleavy said. “You’re probably going to see a lot more of them as this series goes on.”

Or as Johnson said before it started: “Everybody better hang on.”

Saturday, that became, “The Lakers had better hang on.” The Trail Blazers rolled to a 14-point lead late in the third quarter, strewing the court with Laker bodies, most often Divac’s.

The 7-foot, 260-pound Kevin Duckworth, irritated at the wily Yugoslav for continually flicking the ball away from him from behind, elbowed Vlade to the head in the first quarter, then twice bumped him to the floor in the third.


At this point, Dunleavy, who had managed to go almost the entire Warrior series without Divac, relieved him again. However, any hope Dunleavy had of going small up front disappeared when Duckworth promptly sumo-wrestled Perkins out of the way for two quick post-up baskets.

Dunleavy brought Divac back in the fourth quarter . . . to score eight of the Lakers’ first 15 points.

What’s Serbian for “Welcome back, Vlade?”

Said Divac’s personal trainer, Johnson: “I looked at it (Duckworth elbowing Divac). I was happy Kevin did it.

“Now Vlade knows what’s going to happen. Now he knows he’s not going to get the call. Now let’s play. Instead of crying and talking to the ref, you get one in on him. This is the playoffs. This is the Western Conference finals. You’ve got to play.

“I think that elbow really shook him up.

“There’s always a thing in the NBA. Vlade’s thing was, if you hit him, if you hit him hard, then he’d quit. But he’s turned around in the playoffs. Something happened. Hakeem (Olajuwon) hit him and Vlade was still standing there. It was like, ‘ Alllllright !’ ”

Divac started the fourth quarter with a fallaway eight-footer against Duckworth.

Moments later, Duckworth picked up his fourth foul and left. Portland Coach Rick Adelman, perhaps trying to steal a trick from Don Nelson, tried smaller players on the 7-0 Divac, first 6-7 Jerome Kersey, then 6-10 Cliff Robinson.

Divac tore both up.

“I think he learned something last series,” Johnson said. “He doesn’t want to sit. He’s got a lot of pride. I told him, ‘That’s not going to happen this time. I’m coming right to you.’ ”


The Trail Blazers’ lead dwindled. With 3:48 gone in the fourth quarter, Byron Scott drilled a three-pointer, capping a 15-0 Laker spurt for a 93-92 lead.

After that, the teams battled to the end. The Trail Blazers had their last lead with 2:40 left, 104-103. The Lakers ran a play, Johnson passing to Scott on the right wing, cutting down the lane and getting Scott’s pass back for an easy layup.

At the other end, Duckworth missed a 10-footer, got the ball back in a scramble, then missed a seven-footer.

The Trail Blazers rebounded this one, too, and threw it back to the unfortunate Duckworth, who tried a spin move into the middle, only to have his nemesis, Divac, tip the ball away one last time.

Scott sank an 18-footer with 49 seconds to go to give the Lakers a 109-106 lead, then Portland’s Buck Williams missed two free throws with 33.2 seconds left.

Johnson ran down the shot clock, saw the Trail Blazers take away his favorite outlet, Scott, and threw it across court to Worthy, 20 feet out on the right wing.


Two Trail Blazers tore for Worthy, who saw Perkins to his right, on the baseline, gloriously alone. Worthy passed to him, Perkins dunked, the Lakers led, 111-106, with eight seconds left and that was just about that.

“I want you to understand something,” Johnson said. “This is a long series. We have done nothing, really.”

Some 12,884 Blazermaniacs trudged to their cars, bearing their Rip City posters, Beat L.A. placards and likenesses of Jack Nicholson and Magic Johnson.

Ask them if the Lakers did nothing, really.

Laker Notes

The Lakers are 4-0 on the road in the playoffs. . . . The Trail Blazers were 59-3 this season when leading at the start of the fourth quarter. They had been 10-0 in the past two post-seasons in Games 1 and 2 played here. . . . Portland Coach Rick Adelman, bristling at questions about using Walter Davis at the start of the fourth quarter when the Lakers made their run: “Terry Porter had four fouls. Clyde (Drexler) needed a blow so I put him in. He’s our fourth guard. You’ve got to play the people you have.” . . . Davis hadn’t played before, went three minutes, took one shot, a 15-foot air ball.

Laker Coach Mike Dunleavy, on using three guards to start the fourth quarter: “Down 12 points, you had to do something.” . . . The Trail Blazers double-teamed Magic Johnson, who found open teammates, notably Byron Scott, who made nine of 12 shots. . . . Said Adelman: “It’s a Catch-22, If you don’t double-team, he (Johnson) will put it on the floor and go to the free throw line every time. He’ll turn the corner, go to the hoop and good things are going to happen for him.” . . . Johnson said he would double-team himself, too. “You have to,” he said. “It’s just like us. We had to continue to double-team them, even though they had Jerome Kersey hitting from the outside. You don’t want to let people in the league now go one-on-one.”

* BIG FINISH: After starting out soft, Laker center Vlade Divac takes it to Portland’s Kevin Duckworth in the fourth quarter. C4


* REMATCH: The Chicago Bulls wanted another shot at Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals, and the Pistons were happy to oblige. C5