Scott and Lakers wonder where his shot has gone Defending Jordan may be hurting scoring


INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers have all but issued a missing-person bulletin for shooting guard Byron Scott, whose offense has disappeared in the championship series with the Chicago Bulls.

Scott averaged 14.5 points in the regular season, but has scored only nine points in the first three games against the Bulls. He was shut out (0-for-8 and two missed free throws) in the 104-96, overtime loss Friday night, despite playing 43 minutes.

The eight-year veteran, who played high school ball only a long jump shot from The Forum, apparently was so upset by his performance in Game 3 that he hid in the trainer's room until

reporters had left.

Team captain Magic Johnson was seen consoling Scott, who has played on three of the Lakers' championship teams.

"I just told him that we're only down, 2-1, in this series, and we can't sit here like it's over, because it's not," Johnson said. "There is still a lot of basketball to be played."

Several explanations have been offered for Scott's sudden scoring slump. Defenders say he is too focused on trying to defend Michael Jordan to play free and loose on offense, where he is best known for his perimeter shooting.

"That's possible," Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy said, "but there is no alternative to Byron playing Jordan. He's always defended the top scoring guard, and it's no different now. He had good shots. It's just a matter of making them."

Yesterday, Scott said: "It's just another challenge in life that I'll have to overcome. But I don't feel people are pointing fingers at me. They know that I've helped contribute to winning three titles here."

Scott acknowledged that having Bulls defender John Paxson picking him up 25 feet from the basket was disconcerting.

"That's a small part of it," he said. "The key to our success is getting the ball to our big men in the low post. So I'm not getting nearly as many shots as in the past. I'm getting good looks, but I'm not getting my feet under me when I shoot the ball."

* NBA referee Joe Crawford was needling former BaltimorOrioles manager Frank Robinson during a break in Game 3. Robinson, a Lakers fan, has a seat on the baseline.

"Yo, Frank," Crawford said. "You could be arguing with [umpire] Ken Kaiser instead of being here."

* Bullet-ins: The Washington Bullets, who own the eighth pick in the NBA draft, already have had New Mexico center Luc Longley and UNLV point guard Greg Anthony in for interviews. Anthony's teammate, small forward Stacey Augmon, will be in next week.

General manager John Nash said the player the Bullets are seeking was not among the group of college stars playing at the NBA rookie camp in Chicago this past week. He said there is a "50-50" chance the Bullets will trade their pick, but said he was not interested in obtaining Denver Nuggets point guard Michael Adams, who is reportedly available.

* Air Watch: Jordan missed practice yesterday, nursing sprained big toe on his right foot. He suffered the injury making the game-tying shot with three seconds left in regulation Friday night.

Team trainer John Hefferon said Jordan was being treated with ice and anti-inflammatory drugs and was expected to play in Game 4 today.

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