INGLEWOOD, CALIF., JUNE 3 -- Despite the 70 transition points the Boston Celtics gave up and their 126-113 loss to Los Angeles in Game 1 of the NBA championship series, Lakers guard Magic Johnson insisted the Celtics are not the slowest team Los Angeles has faced this season.

"In the playoffs, probably as far as team speed, they're slower than Denver, Golden State and Seattle," he said, mentioning the Lakers' earlier playoff opponents. "But during the season, Washington probably was. They didn't even try to run, except when the little fella {Michael Adams} was in there; he probably beat us by himself when they came out here."

The Bullets' 115-99 triumph at the Forum in February was one of four home losses Los Angeles has suffered this season. One of the others was in December, to the Atlanta Hawks, when 5-foot-7 guard Spud Webb was the catalyst.

So, apparently what the Celtics need to do before Game 2 here Thursday is acquire as many short players as they can. Surely a squad of Adams, Webb and three leprechauns would have as much success against the Lakers as Boston's much bigger and far more ballyhooed performers did in the series opener Tuesday, when Los Angeles' fast break left the Eastern Conference champions gasping for air.

"Alysheba would come in second place to the Lakers' fast break," said Boston Coach K.C. Jones. "Our guys were going back on defense, but at half the speed the Lakers were going on offense. And then no one would grab the guy that had the ball. He was going to the basket saying, 'How come no one's guarding me?' "

Even before the series began, there was a mental battle taking place between the teams, the Celtics practically coming into town on stretchers, pleading injuries. Today, their roles were reversed somewhat, with the Celtics playing footloose and fancy free and the Lakers as subdued as if they were the ones who had been routed.

"There's no question that last night's game was totally unexpected. You know that when you play Boston it's going to be a difficult game and we're prepared for that," Johnson said. "One team can blow the other out once, but that's about it. The next game is going to be tougher. History is always going to go back to how it usually is."

"They're doing that on purpose," countered Jones. "I'm sure they sat around and decided that, 'We're not gonna say anything to get their dander up. We really kicked their tails but we won't talk about it.' "

The Lakers exhibited superiority in every statistical category of Game 1, but perhaps the most telling figures were in rebounding, where they held a 47-32 advantage. The tables were even turned on the Celtics in offensive rebounding, an area in which they maintained an edge against both Milwaukee and Detroit in the Eastern Conference playoffs. On Tuesday, Boston had five offensive rebounds, the Lakers 17.

"When you have a rebound advantage of nearly 20, it not only shows that they were all crashing the boards, but that we weren't doin' nothin'," said Celtics guard Dennis Johnson.

Magic Johnson, confident of his team's abilities, but seemingly convinced that Game 1 was something of a fluke, seconded that opinion.

"We wanted to establish our running game and we did that," he said. "They probably didn't shoot as well as they wanted to early, which meant that we got the ball more, and the more chances you give us to run, the more we'll cash in on it. But you never think you'll blow them out, by no means."

And, as Magic Johnson said, history suggests that Game 1 was almost par for the course in the teams' recent playoff history. Boston won the 1984 NBA title, but not before suffering a 137-104 loss to the Lakers in Game 3. The following season, Los Angeles was embarrassed, 148-114, in the series opener.

"They just rolled over us in that one," recalled Magic Johnson. "Everything they did just worked; I can still see Greg Kite hitting 10-foot hook shots."

Tuesday night, it was the Celtics' turn to endure the Lakers' 56 percent field goal shooting and seemingly endless point sprees: four runs of at least eight consecutive points along with the commonplace 10-1 and 14-4 spurts. Those bursts made Jones' job irrelevant.