INGLEWOOD, CALIF., JUNE 2 -- It's been three years since James Worthy's casual inbounds pass went astray in overtime of Game 2 of the NBA finals, a mistake that derailed the Los Angeles Lakers' championship hopes and left deep emotional scars on Worthy.

"It's hard to get over something like that when you're as young as I was," he said recently. "I felt terrible for a very long time."

But all that was forgotten tonight in the wake of Worthy's performance in Game 1 of this season's NBA finals. He scored 33 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had 10 assists to key the Lakers' 126-113 victory over the Boston Celtics at the Forum.

"You can't get much better than that," said Lakers Coach Pat Riley, when told of Worthy's numbers. "James Worthy is a complete player. He's extremely coachable, and there's not a quicker player in the league.

"He's a great player. He wants the ball and he's playing defined basketball."

Worthy's performance took on added significance because he did it while guarding Celtics forward Larry Bird, who finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and six assists -- good statistics, but not as good as Worthy's.

"I don't think there's anyone who can stop {Worthy}," said Bird. "We're just hoping to contain him the rest of the way."

That may prove difficult, especially if Worthy continues to play the way he did tonight.

Despite a defense designed to trap him in the low post, Worthy wiggled free for 23 points in the first half. He made 11 of 13 shots, most of them off the fast break, as the Lakers stretched their lead to as many as 19 points.

"We all put a lot of emphasis on getting right back at the Celtics after every basket," said Worthy. "That's the most consistent our running game has ever been."

Worthy's quickness proved especially difficult for Bird, Kevin McHale and the host of others who tried to guard him.

Pulling his opponents away from the basket because of his ability to hit from outside, Worthy had little trouble getting past each with his trademark explosiveness.

"They don't want to follow James out there," said Riley. "We know better than to force it inside to him like he's a 7-footer or something, so we let him play with the ball in {Boston's} face. He can beat McHale and those guys with the dribble."

Worthy's 10 assists were a career high, and were further evidence of his development into one of basketball's best players. A two-time all-star, he has come a long way since his first nervous years in the NBA.

"I'm a lot more relaxed, more confident now," he said. "Before, when I missed shots or made mistakes, I'd get anxious. But I've been fortunate to play in two world championships {before this year} and I can deal with things better."

Including the turnover in 1984, which allowed Boston to win Game 2 in overtime and take command of the series.

"I never thought I'd get over that," Worthy said. "But I know better now."