Lakers' slowdown was aimed at Bulls' fast break


CHICAGO -- In winning the NBA championship opener with the Chicago Bulls, 93-91, Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers tied a playoff record for fewest field-goal attempts (66) since the 24-second clock was adopted in 1954.

But that was just fine with Mike Dunleavy, the Lakers' rookie head coach, who has his team milking the clock in a deliberate half-court offense, neutralizing the fast-break opportunities for the younger, quicker Bulls.

"This strategy worked against Portland in the Western finals, and let's hope it keeps working against the Bulls," said Dunleavy.

The Lakers concentrated on getting the ball inside to their front line of James Worthy, Vlade Divac and Sam Perkins, all of whom posted up their Bulls defenders. That strategy led to the Lakers' shooting 34 free throws compared with 18 for Chicago, which let them overcome the Bulls' 38-30 advantage in field goals.

Bulls coach Phil Jackson acknowledged the successful strategy.

"The Lakers had us rocking on our heels most of the day," he said. "Our players were not quite in game shape after having a week off, and some of our players were nervous, being in their first finals."

Divac was more succinct. "To me, the Bulls looked a little scared," he said. "Maybe thinking of the title, you know?"

* Keeping time: Asked the difference in attitude between being a player and being a coach in the finals, Jackson, a former New York Knicks forward, said, "As a coach now, I go to sleep at 11 and get up at 6. As a player, it was just the opposite."

* So, who's counting?: Lakers superstar Magic Johnson attempted only one shot in the first half and did not make his first field goal until 30 minutes had elapsed in the opener. He finished with 19 points on 4-for-5 field-goal shooting and nine free throws.

"That happens a lot," Johnson said. "I'm just not caught up in that stuff, having to get a certain number of shots. I might take one or 10. I let the game dictate."

* Simple math: Los Angeles guard Byron Scott has no problem explaining the difference between his Lakers and the Bulls. "When it comes to crunch time, we've got three or four guys who want to take the last shot. With Chicago, it's only Jordan."

* Prime time: The NBA switched starting times of games 4 and 7 (if necessary) from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Both are scheduled for Sundays.

"This is an opportunity to include all the family and kids in our audience," said commissioner David Stern. We discussed it during our television contract discussions with NBC, making the finals a prime-time event.

* Short count: Security personnel at Chicago Stadium said the crowd figure for Game 1 was closer to 21,000 than the announced sellout of 18,676. Fans were standing three deep in the upper balcony. It was the first title event in the building since the Blackhawks lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the 1973 Stanley Cup finals.

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