I guess," Julius Erving was saying, "it was one of those Sundays where I woke up too late to do anything at the beginning. But I did wake up in time."

Long enough to send the NBA championship series soaring back to Los Angeles; long enough to make Magic disappear during yet another dunk dance on air; long enough to inspire the imaginative fans here to outdo themselves. But long enough to win the NBA title ring that has eluded this classy virtuoso for too long?

Probably not.

Let's savor today a bit longer, take another look at that unique glow that flashes through an arena when Erving's unique skills and his public's adoration come together. Let's glance around the Spectrum the final 10 minutes.

Six men young enough to be interns suddenly were skipping down an aisle and flipping out in their hospital-drab surgeon's garb, complete with masks. A beach ball was being batted from section to section as the Sixers kept careening past Kareem again and again.

There were signs:

Hopeful: "L.A. May Have Magic, But Philly Has The Physician."

Reflective: "Past Five Years: Best Record--You Owe Us Nothing."

And Dave Zinkoff, the mouth that bores, yelling over the public-address system, time and again:

"JEWELyus."

Over a season, the Lakers are the swiftest team in the history of basketball. Today, the Sixers ran by them. They scored a playoff record 81 points in the second half.

They were good enough to make jaws drop in admiration, once Erving awoke. He missed his first seven shots, scored on a follow-up and then missed again. Shots were hanging on the rim and bouncing the wrong way. His coach was second-guessing him; his wife was scowling.

"The number of shots I missed was a fairly normal amount for the whole game," he said after the 135-102 race had ended. "Because they all happened in a row made it stand out."

At one point, after a missed layup in traffic, Coach Billy Cunningham yelled: "Dunk the ball!"

"He wasn't out there," Erving said. "It was hard enough to catch that pass, let alone dunk it."

Terrible as he had been (two of 10 from the field and three turnovers), Erving was both grateful and confident at halftime.

"We were even," he said. "And I figured if I could do something the second half we could run away from 'em."

The Lakers had good reason for similar reactions at intermission: most of their best players each had three fouls, they had thrown the ball away 11 times in the first quarter and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had shot just once. Their normal game the second half would yield a rout.

It was Erving who returned to form.

Bedazzling, as usual. Cutting a team's will from above the rim. Eight for nine from the field. Nineteen points in about 16 minutes. Stirring his family and his public.

"One of my sons is a ball boy," he said. "Another wishes he was a ball boy; a daughter is in the stands not paying attention to much of anything and a wife is biting her nails. We have eye contact now and then, her form of motivation."

And when Erving is close to awesome?

"She acts disinterested. Says she's seen it all before. She wants to keep my head intact."

A spectacularly attired camerman planted his derby on Erving's head.

"Save that," he said when it had been returned. "I'll come get that Thursday. That's a championship hat."

Before Thursday here comes Tuesday in Los Angeles. And a presumably more attentive Abdul-Jabbar. Where Erving slept offensively the first half, the second most productive player in NBA history dozed the entire game. Six shots in 28 minutes; six points.

Never had Abdul-Jabbar scored fewer than 11 points in a playoff game. He had not been under double figures since that fight with Kent Benson--and subsequent ejection--in the first game of the 1977 season.

He scurried out of the Laker locker room without offering why. A week ago, Abdul-Jabbar was lethargic enough for the seldom-seen Earl Cureton to appear competent. Today, Darryl Dawkins showed the potential for dominance that actually frustrates many in the league, because they expect it every game instead of every two months.

In the same number of minutes as Abdul-Jabbar, although not always with him on the court, Dawkins had 20 points, seven rebounds and just four fouls.

"Not bein' cocky or anything," he said after the first wave of reporters engulfed him as he sat near his locker, "but I ain't had time to worry about him."

When he had time, Dawkins volunteered: "The big thing is to keep him from getting the ball where he wants it."

Dawkins had no such problems.

"Because Andrew Toney (31 points) and Maurice Cheeks and Clint Richardson (a combined 24 points) were hitting from the outside," he explained. "They couldn't sag on me."

Erving added: "We have to make 'em play two-man defense or three-man defense. Anything but five-man defense, letting 'em sag back there inside on us. Had to get 'em out of their (zone) areas."

At times, Dawkins was matched with Caldwell Jones, something the Sixers have used in the past but abandoned of late.

The strategy involved with both on the court at the same time?

"Tell you the truth," the delightfully honest Dawkins said, "I don't know."

The return of the Gruesome Twosome, a Philly scribe wondered?

"Hello," Dawkins replied.

The last time the Sixers embarrassed Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers, they paid dearly the next game in L.A. Dawkins looked ahead to Tuesday.

"The fans are against us; it's a terrible plane ride. But we've still got to keep it going. This is a chance that comes only so often."

It has come regularly for the Sixers the last several years; they always have failed. Probably, they will again. But this game left the doomsayers a bit more cautious. the Laker locker room without offering why. A week ago, Abdul-Jabbar was lethargic enough for the seldom-seen Earl Cureton to appear competent. Today, Darryl Dawkins showed the potential for dominance that actually frustrates many in the league, because they expect it every game instead of every two months.

In the same number of minutes as Abdul-Jabbar, although not always with him on the court, Dawkins had 20 points, seven rebounds and just four fouls.

"Not bein' cocky or anything," he said after the first wave of reporters engulfed him as he sat near his locker, "but I ain't had time to worry about him."

When he had time, Dawkins volunteered: "The big thing is to keep him from getting the ball where he wants it."

Dawkins had no such problems.

"Because Andrew Toney (31 points) and Maurice Cheeks and Clint Richardson (a combined 24 points) were hitting from the outside," he explained. "They couldn't sag on me."

Erving added: "We have to make 'em play two-man defense or three-man defense. Anything but five-man defense, letting 'em sag back there inside on us. Had to get 'em out of their (zone) areas."

At times, Dawkins was matched with Caldwell Jones, something the Sixers have used in the past but abandoned of late.

The strategy involved with both on the court at the same time?

"Tell you the truth," the delightfully honest Dawkins said, "I don't know."

The return of the Gruesome Twosome, a Philly scribe wondered?

"Hello," Dawkins replied.

The last time the Sixers embarrassed Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers, they paid dearly the next game in L.A. Dawkins looked ahead to Tuesday.

"The fans are against us; it's a terrible plane ride. But we've still got to keep it going. This is a chance that comes only so often."

It has come regularly for the Sixers the last several years; they always have failed. Probably, they will again. But this game left the doomsayers a bit more cautious.