Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who scored only six points in Los Angeles' 135-102 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday at the Spectrum, said today he had a migraine headache that prevented him from sleeping most of the night before the game and left him physically drained.
Without his strength, Abdul-Jabbar wasn't able to withstand the double-teaming, pushing and leaning by Caldwell Jones and Darryl Dawkins. As a result, he failed to score in double figures for the first time in 420 games and the 76ers forced at least one more game in the National Basketball Association championship series, cutting the Lakers' advantage to 3-2.
Abdul-Jabbar has had a history of migraine headaches. They are usually so severe that when they occur during the season, he doesn't play.
"I don't have that luxury now," he said today. Still, Abdul-Jabbar refused to use the headache as an excuse for his and the team's performance Sunday, He talked about it only after prodding from questioners.
"We know we can play better than we did and we will," he said, looking ahead to Game 6 Tuesday at the Forum (WDVM-TV-9 at 9 p.m.). If the 76ers win, Game 7 will be Thursday at the Spectrum.
Only two teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to force a seventh game in the championship round and no team has ever come back from 3-1 to win the title.
There was a major role reversal as both teams went through their workouts today. This time the Lakers were soft-spoken and a little less sure of themselves, and the 76ers were loose and talking as if they were in total control.
"We've come alive and everyone knows we can beat them," said Dawkins. "I don't know if that puts any pressure on them, but it gives them something to think about."
Abdul-Jabbar was called for his third foul early in the second quarter Sunday and that further limited his effectiveness.
"The fouls meant I couldn't play defense the way I want to, and when I can't do that, they (the 76ers) just take the ball to the hoop and there isn't much we can do about it," he said.
The 76ers took the ball to the hoop for 81 second-half points, a championship series record. They made 36 of 51 shots in the process in giving the Lakers their worst defeat of the season.
"The zone they played gave us problems because we hadn't seen it before," Abdul-Jabbar said. "I'm disappointed that we didn't have a better effort collectively and me in particular. That game is over now. You don't put it completely out of your mind, though, because you want to make sure that sort of thing doesn't happen again.
"I understand why we lost--we had a breakdown as a team and I had a breakdown personally. If they (the 76ers) are going to guard me like they did, then other people are going to be open and we just have to find them. We know we can play better than we did and we will."
Abdul-Jabbar had another migraine the day before Game 3 of the series. That was an off day and Coach Pat Riley told him to stay home and rest. He said he recovered by game time the next night.
"I can't sleep when I get them and they leave me physically wracked," said Abdul-Jabbar. "A quiet, dark room helps. It also helps if you don't have to play any games. The headaches are a lot like the common cold--there's no reason or cure."
Most of the talk today was a hodgepodge of the usual, "Our backs are against the wall" and "The pressure is on them" variety. Both sides were still at a loss to explain why all the games have been so lopsided.
"That just seems to be our nature," said Julius Erving of the 76ers. "It seems that every time we go out, we bury somebody--either the other team or ourselves."
"You have two explosive teams," said the Lakers' Norm Nixon. "That's why you haven't seen any close games. We're both capable of scoring 20 unanswered points."
It will be the same way Tuesday, according to forward Jamaal Wilkes of the Lakers. "Not only are we going to win Tuesday, but we're going to win it big."
"Heavy talk," countered Dawkins. "Heavy talk.
"I'll do my talking after the game--on the way back to play Game 7."