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DYNASTY ON THE EDGE
Richard Hoffer
May 21, 1990
Unlikely heroes helped the upstart Suns push the Lakers to the brink of extinction
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May 21, 1990

Dynasty On The Edge

Unlikely heroes helped the upstart Suns push the Lakers to the brink of extinction

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As negligible as the Lakers' middle was on defense, it was invisible on offense. Thompson and Divac had seven points between them. And Scott, Los Angeles's third-leading scorer during the regular season, had only four points. Only Magic's one-man stand kept the Lakers in contention. Operating freely against the 6'3" Hornacek (and less freely when guarded by 6'6" Dan Majerle), Magic worked his way inside to set up his little swing move and the baby hook that Abdul-Jabbar taught him long ago. His determination was unyielding. The game's greatest passer no longer looked for the assist; instead, he dribbled deep, his back to the basket, and spun. He had 14 points in the third quarter as he brought the Lakers to within five points, 84-79, with a layup and hook at the end of the period. One-on-five isn't fair, though, even if Magic is the one. When L.A. pulled to within four, 94-90, with 4:39 remaining, the Suns reeled off seven straight points.

Afterward, Magic was beside himself. "We're not getting offensive input from some of the guys," he said. "I had to get in more offensively. I'd rather have 22 points and more assists, but I did what I had to do."

So it had come to this: Groping for a glimmer of hope, the Lakers began talking of the week ahead as a three-game miniseries, with no margin for error. But there was also some preparation for the worst. Explanations for a playoff failure began to form. Cooper invoked the name of Abdul-Jabbar, even though the latter hadn't been missed during the regular season, during which the great Divac experiment was proclaimed a success. But now, the Lakers were wondering, Where was Cap? Also, there was the matter of these newer players—Divac, Drew and Woolridge. "They don't know about winning," said Cooper.

Now, it seemed, even those Lakers who knew about winning were beginning to forget. As a result, the franchise of the '80s appeared to be teetering perilously as it entered the '90s. The Hollywood community, scattered as it may be, isn't going to enjoy this.

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