orm Nixon scored a career-high 36 points and the Los Angeles Lakers held off a furious closing surge tonight to beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 116-108, and win their Western Conference semifinal series, four games to one.
The defending NBA champions will meet the winner of the San Antonio-Denver series for the conference title. San Antonio leads that series, 3-1, with the fifth game scheduled Wednesday night in San Antonio.
Nixon missed his first shot, then made 10 in a row. He finished the half with 21 points as the Lakers went to the locker room with a 66-42 lead.
Los Angeles appeared to be on its way to a rout in the third period and led by 78-45 at 8:55. But the Trail Blazers kept chipping away. Jim Paxson's layup with two minutes left in the game cut the deficit to 108-97. In the final minute, Paxson's three-point shot brought the Trail Blazers within 114-106, but they got no closer.
Paxson led Portland with 32 points, 13 in the final quarter.
Magic Johnson had 25 points and 15 assists for Los Angeles, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who averaged 33 points in the first four games, had 21 points and 11 rebounds. He did not take a shot in the fourth quarter.
Jamaal Wilkes of the Lakers had 18 points and Michael Cooper eight. Cooper was the only nonstarter to score for the Lakers.
There was obvious bad feelings between the teams. Laker Coach Pat Riley had accused the Trail Blazers of roughing up Abdul-Jabbar in Sunday's game in Portland, which the Lakers lost.
Tonight's game was interrupted two minutes into the second half when Los Angeles forward Kurt Rambis squared off with Portland center Wayne Cooper at the center circle.
Several punches were thrown, a few landed but no damage was done. Each player was assessed a personal foul, remained in the game and shook hands five minutes after the fight.