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Lakers Get on Ceballos and Ride : Pro basketball: He has 32 points and 12 rebounds as L.A. ends three-game losing streak by defeating Seattle, 100-97.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

He was a small forward at tip-off and a shooting guard before the game was a quarter old.

In the second half, Cedric Ceballos was everything.

“We needed somebody to step up,” teammate Nick Van Exel said, “and he stepped up.”

Ceballos stepped high enough to get 26 of his game-high 32 points in the second half--12 in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth. He also had a team-high 12 rebounds, even though the Lakers were on his shoulders much of the way during the 100-97 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics before 15,542 at the Forum.

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Ceballos got five of his points in the final quarter off offensive rebounds, then scored his team’s final seven points. The last of those came with 15 seconds to go and gave the Lakers a 100-96 edge, good enough to bring the three-game losing streak to an end. Barely.

The SuperSonics cut the deficit to three on Shawn Kemp’s free throw with 11.3 seconds left. Then, when Ceballos missed two from the line with 6.6 showing, they still had life, at least until Detlef Schrempf’s straight-away, leaning three-point basket with about a second left for the tie banked away.

It made the return to relative normalcy--Anthony Peeler in the starting lineup at shooting guard for the first time this season, Ceballos back to the front court--a success. Even with Van Exel on the bench the entire fourth quarter as Coach Del Harris went with Sedale Threatt at the point.

“Everyone was trying to do something to get us a win,” Ceballos said. “Tonight we did all the little things and a little extra to win the game.”

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Nobody more than Ceballos.

“He was terrific,” Harris said. “He’s been terrific every game. He’s had a wonderful preseason and regular season. I thought tonight the rest of the team caught up with his vitality.”

The Lakers’ pleasure in finally seeing Peeler in the starting lineup had to do with more than his improved health, although that was a factor. His return, after playing 41 minutes off the bench the previous two games, also meant the return of one of their best outside shooters, which should translate into defenses not being able to collapse inside as much and also open the lane more for Van Exel to penetrate. Also, Ceballos, No. 2 among all small forwards in rebounding in 1994-95, should be in much better position to crash the boards than from the backcourt.

Some celebration. The Lakers got to enjoy the moment for all of 4:46, when Peeler picked up his second foul and was replaced by Threatt. Four minutes and 15 seconds later, Threatt was out after getting his second. Fred Roberts came in and Ceballos was back at shooting guard.

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Suddenly playing with an odd lineup again, this time by their own doing, the Lakers still built a 34-27 advantage midway through the second quarter. The lead then reached eight, 39-31, on Peeler’s jumper with 3:59 remaining.

The SuperSonics responded. The team that came in averaging 111.5 points a game, best in the league, closed the half by scoring on nine of its last 10 possessions, mostly attacking inside with Shawn Kemp. Gary Payton supplied one of the few exceptions--a baseline jumper with 0.5 left for a 47-47 tie at intermission.

Seattle shot only 33.3% and still managed to claw back. Kemp was only four of 11 from the field, but he made nine of 11 free throws for 17 of his 27 points by halftime.

Laker Notes

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Coach Del Harris, having seen his players grow increasingly frustrated over the quality of the substitute officials, has urged them not to get so caught up that they get distracted. This comes in the wake of Wednesday’s game at Utah, when several Lakers were openly critical of the referees and Nick Van Exel said the lockout of the usual officials means the league is “cheating the players and they’re cheating the fans.” Said Harris: “I think we’ve got to deflect the temptation to be critical of the referees and not let our opinion of the way the games are being called be an upsetting factor. The truth is, we got mad at the other referees.” . . . Four Lakers are on the all-star ballot: Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Cedric Ceballos and Vlade Divac. . . . Wednesday’s game against Utah marked the first time Fred Roberts had started since Jan. 8, 1993, when he played for Milwaukee.


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