INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Paul Westphal made good on the first part of his prediction, but the Los Angeles Lakers came remarkably close to sweeping the Suns out of the first round of the playoffs and making the Phoenix coach eat his bold words.
Phoenix held off a series of comebacks by the Lakers, who cut a 14-point deficit to one with 19.7 seconds to play, and stayed alive in the Western Conference first-round, best-of-five series with a 107-102 victory last night.
The Suns -- who got 27 points from Charles Barkley, 18 from Richard Dumas and 17 from Kevin Johnson -- are attempting to become the fourth team in NBA playoff history to win a best-of-five series after losing the first two games.
Westphal had flatly declared the Suns would win last night and again tomorrow at the Forum, but the Lakers almost spoiled his game plan with a furious rally that barely fell short.
Vlade Divac had a career playoff-high 30 points to lead the Lakers, who get another chance tomorrow to become the first eighth-seeded playoff team to oust a top-seeded team. Divac scored 10 points in the third quarter despite missing five minutes to receive five stitches on a cut on his right eyelid.
Sedale Threatt's three-pointer from the left side cut the Suns' lead to 101-100. But the Suns held the Lakers at bay to give Westphal the first playoff coaching triumph of his career.
Elden Campbell, who finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, stole Dan Majerle's inbounds pass. After the Lakers called timeout with 58.3 seconds to play, James Worthy missed an open, 15-foot jumper from the left side. Divac fouled Oliver Miller, who made both free throws.
Divac's three-point attempt with 31 seconds to play fell short, deflating the crowd, and A. C. Green had to foul Dan Majerle on the rebound. With 26.5 seconds to play, Majerle missed both free throws and the Lakers grabbed the rebound, promptly calling a timeout. But a three-point attempt by Divac fell woefully short.