When the game's on the line, the Los Angeles Lakers make sure Magic Johnson gets the ball.
"You've got to get the ball in his hands," said Lakers coach Pat Riley after Johnson hit a game-winning jumper from the free throw line at the buzzer to give Los Angeles a 118-116 victory over the Phoenix Suns Sunday night.The Lakers avoided losing their third straight home game for the first time in six seasons and and moved four games ahead of the second-place Suns in the NBA's Pacific Division.
Byron Scott and Magic Johnson sandwiched three-point plays around a jumper by Phoenix's Kevin Johnson to rally the Lakers from a 112-108 deficit to a 114-114 tie with 1:25 to play.
Phoenix's Dan Majerle missed a 3-point shot and the Lakers regained the lead 116-114 on Scott's jumper with 56 seconds left. But Eddie Johnson, who led the Suns with 29 points, made a jumper with 20 seconds left to tie the game for the final time.
The Lakers called a timeout and gave Magic Johnson the ball. He dribbled the clock away before making his move.
Boston 105, Philadelphia 103
At Boston, the three new Boston Celtics - Ed Pinckney, Joe Kleine and Kelvin Upshaw - are thrilled with their fantastic journey from oblivion to opportunity.
"I've never been in a playoff race like this," Pinckney said. "It's very exciting. Joe, Kelvin and I talk about it every day."
With all three newcomers making major fourth-quarter contributions, Boston held on for a 105-103 victory over the 76ers despite Charles Barkley's 38 points and 15 rebounds.
The Sixers are only 11/2 games ahead of Boston in the race for the next-to-last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The teams meet again Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
"Early in the season, we were in these (fourth-quarter) situations a lot of times and couldn't hold the fort," Coach Jimmy Rodgers said. "We're a different team now. We're a deeper team."
The Celtics, now 35-32, are 11-4 since the trade - sending Danny Ainge and Brad Lohaus to Sacrament for Pinckney and Klein - and 6-2 with CBA refugee Upshaw.
Robert Parish led Boston with 30 points and 16 rebounds but Upshaw had six points in the last nine minutes, Kleine had three of Boston's last six points and a season-high 13 for the game and Pinckney, playing for the injured Kevin McHale, made two critical defensive plays against Barkley in the last 28 seconds.