The little streak lives, but the big one died.
The Lakers have now gone overtime in all three games this season, but their 27-game Forum winning streak over the Clippers expired Tuesday night.
The Clippers, 22 days short of going 10 seasons without winning on the Laker floor, did it the hard way, erasing seven Laker leads in the last 2:39 of regulation, then winning in overtime, 114-109, to ruin the Lakers’ home opener.
Loy Vaught, a second-year forward and first-year starter, scored 20 points, six in the overtime. He put the Clippers ahead to stay with a rebound basket, then made two 17-foot jumpers in the last 1:11 with his team clinging to one-point leads to make history.
The Clippers had come ready.
Their players wore black sneakers.
Their broadcast crew wore tuxedos.
Broadcaster Bill Walton, bridging the gap, wore a tuxedo and black sneakers.
“Some people say they run the city and we are basically like leftovers,” Clipper center Olden Polynice said.
“We just kept saying in the huddle to keep going. It wasn’t like, ‘Well, we stayed close.’
“No. We had to win.
“Nobody expected us to win. I was listening to the radio today and it was, ‘Oh yeah, another win for the Lakers, even without Magic (Johnson).’
“We’re 12 Rodney Dangerfields. The only difference is, we’re going to get our respect.”
The Clippers didn’t have Charles Smith. The Lakers were without Johnson, Vlade Divac, Tony Smith, and, said Coach Mike Dunleavy, something else.
“They must have had eight points, on garbage,” Dunleavy said. “Loose balls they picked up and stuck back in. Those are thing you have control of. Some things you don’t.
“They (Clippers) made some big shots down the stretch. I can handle that. But the intensity, the physical play, getting to the boards to box out, that’s within somebody’s control.”
The Lakers, home after going 1-1 in three overtimes over two games in Texas, were relieved to be at the Forum.
Meanwhile, the Clippers, winless here as a Los Angeles franchise, winless as a San Diego team since Nov. 27, 1981, wore lean and hungry looks.
“It is something that can play with your mind,” new Clipper guard Doc Rivers said before the game. “I’m sure for some of the guys who’ve been here, it does.
“The only way you can cure it is win.”
The words weren’t long out of his mouth before they trailed, 11-4. Not easily discouraged--this time--they went on a 9-0 run in the second quarter. The Lakers took an 11-point lead in the third period, but the Clippers went on a 15-2 run to end the quarter, Rivers’ sinking a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Lakers kept taking the lead in the fourth quarter and the Clippers kept catching them. The Lakers were ahead, 94-92, 97-94, 99-96 and 102-100, in the last 2:49 but the once-woeful visitors kept coming back.
Sedale Threatt, enjoying another big night with 25 points, made his third three-pointer with 31 seconds left, giving the Lakers their last lead at 102-100.
At the other end, Ron Harper drove the lane, spotted Danny Manning underneath and hit him with a pass. Manning dropped the ball but snatched it back as the Lakers collapsed on him, then snapped off a fast, little jump hook, tying the score with 23 seconds left.
In the waning seconds, Byron Scott missed a 21-footer from the top of the key.
The Lakers never led in overtime. Vaught’s rebound of Rivers’ miss put the Clippers ahead, 106-104, to stay.
“You’ve got to keep things in perspective,” Rivers said later. “It’s nice to win here, but it’s one game. You’ve got to understand. They didn’t have some of their key people. Magic would have made a difference.
“But now these guys feel they can beat the Lakers and they feel they’re a better team. For this club, confidence is the key. Once you start doubting yourself, you can’t win.”
Tuesday doubt struck out and the Clippers reversed their destiny.
Said Rivers: “I’ve got a nice little streak going here now.”
Loy Vaught has been in double figures in points and rebounds in all three games. . . . Elden Campbell, making his first NBA start in place of Vlade Divac, scored 18 points with 12 rebounds and a career-high five blocks. . . . Jack Haley was called for a flagrant foul, knocking down Doc Rivers on a drive. A.C. Green had to step in to keep Rivers away from Haley. A moment later, Rivers and Terry Teagle almost tangled.
The Lakers, unveiling their new scoreboard, ran a you-make-the-call feature, showing Boston’s Kevin McHale driving and colliding with Detroit’s John Salley. The correct call? “Since McHale is a perennial all-star, playing at home in Boston Garden, there is no violation.”