Dunleavy made Divac his starting center at the beginning of the season and weathered criticism when he didn't pay immediate dividends. "To me, Vlade's disposition is terrific," says Dunleavy. "I really enjoy him. But sometimes he's very laid back."
"Last year you could dunk on Vlade all night," says Magic. "This year he's not letting it happen. If he doesn't improve, we're a middle-good team. If he does, we're a great team."
With Worthy, who was scoring a team-high 21.9 and Magic (19.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 13.5 assists), the Lakers will always be a cut above middle-good. Both are playing more than 37 minutes a game, and Dunleavy has tried to compensate for that hefty work load by cutting down on practice days for the team.
While Magic may be running less, he seems to be enjoying the halfcourt game more. "We have so many weapons now," he says. "When we don't like our first look, we just go on to the next one. We know just what we want to do to get a great shot."
Says Dunleavy, "I'll pay Magic an unbelievable compliment: I think he's as competitive as I am."
So how far can the Lakers go in the deep and dangerous Western Conference? The forecast here says clear sailing into the second round of the postseason, but no rings on the horizon.