NBA FINALS : LAKERS vs. CHICAGO BULLS : Perkins Provides Floor Plan : Game 1: His three-pointer with 14 seconds to play lifts Lakers to a 93-91 victory over the Bulls.
So much for this underdog stuff.
By the start of Sunday’s game, the Lakers seemed to have shrunk to Magic and the Eleven Dwarfs. But by game’s end, it was a different story.
The Lakers stayed close all day and then unleashed secret weapon Sam Perkins, whose three-pointer with 14 seconds to play gave them a 93-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls in the opener of the NBA finals.
Perkins’ shot couldn’t be termed a surprise. Nor was it in the game plan.
“I’d like to say I designed it for a three,” Laker Coach Mike Dunleavy said. “It was designed for Sam. He took the three on his own.”
Proving that clear communication can be overrated, Perkins said he was only following orders.
“It was planned all the way,” he said to laughter.
“No, seriously,” Perkins said.
He was told Dunleavy had said the shot wasn’t planned.
“Well,” Perkins said, smiling, “I thought so.”
Nor was it a totally wide-open shot.
The Bulls’ 6-foot-9 Horace Grant leaped desperately at Perkins, who normally shoots a flat shot but put extra arch on this one--which went through the basket cleanly.
“Well, it was wide open,” Perkins said. “It was wide open for a while. And then all of a sudden when I gathered myself. . . .
“When Grant went up, I had to really let it go. I thought he had a good shot to block it. That’s why I had to shoot it a littlehigher.”
The Bulls started the day with a 15-game winning streak at home in the playoffs over two seasons. They were 10-1 overall this post-season, winning by an average of 12.5 points.
In matchup boxes in both the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, Grant was rated an edge over Perkins; Scottie Pippen over James Worthy; Bill Cartwright over Vlade Divac; Jordan, of course, over Byron Scott, and Phil Jackson over Dunleavy.
It didn’t work out that way.
Perkins outscored Grant, 22-6.
Worthy outscored Pippen, 22-19.
Divac outscored Cartwright, 16-6, and outrebounded him, 14-4.
The Lakers started hot, making 10 of their first 14 shots and took a 16-10 lead.
The game settled into a pattern: Lakers lead, Bulls catch up, Johnson leaves for a short rest, Bulls take the lead, Lakers catch up.
Late in the third period, Johnson made a three-pointer for a 72-68 lead.
A moment later, with the quarter running out, he backed up and made a 27-foot three-pointer with a Bull on him, making the score 75-68. If the Lakers were looking for a game to steal in Chicago, this one had become a candidate.
Johnson went out for a rest. It lasted 2:13, by which time the Bulls were within 75-74.
The Bulls’ run reached 10-0, Michael Jordan making consecutive 17- and 16-foot jump shots on fast breaks for a 78-74 lead.
The Lakers rallied. The teams fought to the wire.
With 24 seconds to play and the Bulls leading, 91-89, Jordan took Scott to the baseline, jumped over him and banked a turnaround 15-footer that fell on the front rim--and bounced off.
The Lakers rebounded and called time out with 23.5 seconds to play. Jordan and Pippen each had five fouls, because the Bulls had resorted to double-teaming Johnson early, so Dunleavy called for a spread offense.
The Bulls double-teamed Johnson, who passed to Perkins, who made the shot heard ‘round Chicago.
“We didn’t want a three,” Jackson said. “We thought Horace could get to the three-point line and run Sam off. But they had good spacing on that side.”
Now all the Lakers had to do was hold on for the last 14 seconds.
On the first Bull possession, Jordan got the ball on the left wing, drove to the baseline against Scott, jumped and was met by two more Lakers. He tried to pass, and the ball went out of bounds off a Laker.
With nine seconds to play, the Bulls inbounded. Jordan got the ball on the left wing again, pulled up and shot an 18-footer that rimmed out.
Johnson tipped the rebound to Scott, who was fouled and made one free throw. Pippen’s half-court desperation heave hit the back of the rim.
“This is the way basketball is supposed to be played,” Johnson said later.
“I mean, this is a great game to be in from a player’s standpoint. Back and forth. Michael’s shot. . . . I was going, ‘Oh, no, no, no, all right!’
“I died. I was dead for 30 seconds. Without a doubt, I was dead on my feet.”
Imagine how the Bulls felt, newly crowned underdogs of the NBA finals.