MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Washington Bullets got their first look at the return of Magic Johnson last night.
What they saw was the same old Magic, who had 13 points and 14 assists in the Lakers' 110-106 preseason victory at The Pyramid.
But Johnson, who is back in action after missing last season after discovering he had the AIDS virus, insisted he didn't see the same old Bullets that won just 21 games last season.
"They've got some young guys that are really going to help them," Johnson said. "They look a lot better than last year."
Bullets coach Wes Unseld was pleased with his team's comeback from a 97-87 deficit with 6:26 left. Washington (2-4) cut the lead to 108-106 on Harvey Grant's jumper with 10.2 seconds left before Byron Scott hit two clinching free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining.
"We made the shots and did the little things necessary to get back into the game," Unseld said. "I think everybody played hard."
In the stretch, the Bullets kept Johnson from penetrating and kicking the ball back to center Vlade Divac. Divac led the Lakers (5-2, 4-0 with Magic in the lineup) with 25 points, many from the perimeter by simply trailing on the break.
The Bullets got back in the game with intelligent shot selection, good ball movement and some nice board work by center Pervis Ellison.
Ellison had team-highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Guard Rex Chapman added 13 points as did rookie Tom Gugliotta.
It wasn't until Johnson re-entered the game with 7:56 left in the second quarter that the Lakers seemed to find their running gear.
An 8-2 Lakers spurt, sparked by three Johnson assists on Divac baskets, gave Los Angeles a seven-point lead with 5:43 left. The Bullets, choosing to rest all their starters, managed to cut the Lakers' lead to 52-49 at the half.
Bullets 23 26 27 30 -- 106
Lakers .24 28 35 23 -- 110