He's Magic to most, but Earvin Johnson is Buck to teammates

By JEFF HASEN, UPI Sports Writer

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- He's Magic to most, but Earvin Johnson is Buck to his teammates. Not in pass the buck, more like a buck who can pass.

Oh, can he pass.


"You feel so good, you know," Johnson said Sunday after he had 21 assists, a record for an NBA championship game, and the Los Angeles Lakers amassed 47 points in the third quarter en route to a 137-104 romp over the Boston Celtics and a 2-1 lead in the league's final series.

"But it's hard to explain. When we get it going, it happens so quick and there's really nothing to defense it."

Game 4 in the best-of-seven playoff is Wednesday night at the Forum. The series then returns to Boston Garden.

Johnson finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along with his record assist total. He quarterbacked the Lakers to a commanding 104-79 lead after three periods.


"It wasn't me; it was Magic," Kurt Rambis, a member of the team on the run, said. 'I just kept filling the lanes and he delivered the ball (for 17 points). It's easy with him."

Los Angeles outscored the Celtics 47-33 in the period, shooting 16-of-25 from the floor and 15-of-17 from the line. It was the most points scored in a quarter by one team in a championship game.

"We've got a lot to discuss as a team," said Larry Bird, who led the Celtics with 30 points. "We really have to get back more on defense. We played passive today. We stood around and let them push us around and do what they wanted.

"They just kept pushing the ball down our throats."

The Celtics shot a more than respectable 13-of-23 in the third period, but Los Angeles was overpowering in breaking the Celtics' record of 46 points in a period set in the 1960 series.

Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, who led the Lakers with 24 points, had 13 in the decisive third period. Johnson had 8, but more importantly, delivered 8 assists.

Bob McAdoo added 21 points for Los Angeles and Scott Wedman 16 for the Celtics.

Ahead 66-52 two minutes into the second half, Los Angeles ended any doubts of the outcome by using an inside game featuring Abdul-Jabbar, Rambis and James Worthy. Johnson led the break in surpassing his personal assist record of 19 set last year.


"This is a veteran team," Los Angeles coach Pat Riley said. "We know we have a lot of work ahead. Two wins is not the end. They know what they have to do."

Los Angeles led 57-46 at halftime. Frustrated in Game 2 when they fumbled a 2-point lead with 18 seconds to go before losing in overtime, the Lakers opened with an 18-4 run at the start. The Celtics later scored 14 straight points -- the last 10 of the first quarter and first 4 of the second period.

But the Lakers, running at a furious pace, answered with an 18-0 blitz to again assume command.

"I'm disappointed with their play," Boston coach K.C. Jones said of his Celtics. "I am not embarrassed or discouraged, just disappointed."

Two jumpers and a pair of swooping baskets by Worthy keyed the Lakers' first surge. But Bird, held to just 2 points over the first six minutes, had 10 in the rest of the period, pulling the Celtics within 29-26.

Bird's jumper moved Boston within a point to start the second period, then the Celtics grabbed the lead for the first time when Wedman hit a 16-footer 1:24 into the quarter.

Quinn Buckner's basket completed the 14-0 spree, but two free throws by Abdul-Jabbar and a jumper by Jamaal Wilkes gave the Lakers the lead again. Cedric Maxwell's dunk and hook two minutes later moved Boston ahead 40-35 before the Lakers' 18-0 onslaught.


McAdoo, Michael Cooper and Rambis hit layups to ignite the fireworks and Worthy's tip-in concluded the burst. McAdoo had 13 first-half points to lead the Lakers. Bird scored 16 for Boston, which shot only 37 percent from the field.

"We've been losing leads like that in the second quarter a lot," Bird said. "There's no excuse for it."

Asked if he was discouraged, Bird turned sarcastic.

"No, I'm as happy as hell," he said.

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