Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Norm Nixon each scored 30 points today to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 119-107 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the opening game of the Western Conference Championship series. The second game will be played at the Forum Tuesday night.
The Lakers won at the foul line. They made 14 of 21 in the fourth period; the Spurs didn't go to the line in that period and, in all, took only 18 foul shots.
"It's absolutely amazing to me how Kareem can go through a game with two fouls (three, actually), and our guy can foul out," Coach Stan Albeck of the Spurs said. He had no compliments for the game's officials.
In a matchup of 7-foot-2 centers, Abdul-Jabbar outscored Artis Gilmore, 30-7. Gilmore had all his points in the first half. The two centers had matched up evenly in five meetings this season, and the Spurs won four of those games.
"This was one of my more successful games against Artis," said Abdul-Jabbar. "With him in foul trouble, we tried to keep the pressure on and when I got good opportunities, I would shoot."
"Kareem had his way today and obviously it was a little frustrating for me," Gilmore said. "We're just going to have to play harder, that's all. This is hurting me. This is a very difficult moment for me. I've got to play better."
Los Angeles broke open a close game with a 22-6 run in the final two minutes of the third period and the first four minutes of the final quarter. With 6:45 left, the Lakers held their biggest lead, 102-89.
San Antonio closed to 102-93 with 5:18 remaining but got no closer; Gilmore fouled out. Four minutes later, George Gervin fouled out. The Spurs were finished.
San Antonio took an eight-point lead late in the first period but Los Angeles made 10 consecutive points, six by Nixon, to take a 32-30 lead at the end of the period. Early in the second quarter the Lakers scored nine straight points, moving from a one-point deficit to an eight-point lead in a two-minute span. But the Spurs came back to lead 61-58 at halftime.
The teams traded spurts in the third period, the Lakers taking a 66-62 lead with an 8-1 run to open the quarter. But San Antonio scored 12 of the next 14 points to take a 74-68 lead midway through the quarter. Los Angeles chipped away and led by 87-83 entering the final period.
Albeck was ejected with his second technical foul with 3:53 left in the game. The team trainer also received a technical on the same play and the Lakers' three subsequent foul shots gave them a 109-99 lead.
Mike Mitchell's 26 points led the Spurs. Johnny Moore had 25, Gervin 24 and Gene Banks 16. Moore had 18 assists.
The Lakers' Bob McAdoo, three-time league scoring champion, played for the first time since dislocating the fourth toe on his right foot Feb. 16. He had four points in 22 minutes.
McAdoo got a standing ovation from the crowd of 15,063 when he entered the game with 11 seconds remaining in the first quarter. He missed his first two shots, then made a dunk early in the second period.