Originally created 05/18/98

Horry on Lakers: 'No heart, no brains, no courage'



SALT LAKE CITY -- Robert Horry figured it out. The Los Angeles Lakers had the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and Cowardly Lion as their lineup in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

"No heart, no brains, no courage," Horry said Sunday in the humbling aftermath of Saturday's 112-77 Game 1 loss to the Utah Jazz.

"Yeah," Lakers coach Del Harris said, "and no wizard either."

"The Wizard of Oz" metaphor was perfect. The Jazz ripped through the Lakers like the tornado that carried Dorothy's house out of Kansas. You could almost hear the Lakers saying, "Toto, I don't think we're playing Seattle anymore."

As they regrouped for Monday night's Game 2 at the Delta Center, the Lakers were trying to correct the multitude of mistakes they made in the worst playoff loss in their storied history. One thing for sure, it can't get much worse.

The horror film that the Lakers watched Sunday confirmed that Game 1 was as bad as it seemed, maybe worse.

"A lot of times when you look at the films, your team didn't play quite as badly as you thought they did," Harris said. "That was not one of those games."

While the experienced Jazz downplayed the significance of the surprising blowout and reminded everyone it's a best-of-7 series, the young Lakers wondered if they had gotten carried away with all the praise they received following romps over Portland and Seattle in the first two rounds.

"When you've had the success that we've had, you start to feel you're better than what you are. Then you get knocked on your butt and you start to think, `Hey,"' Lakers forward Rick Fox said. "The talk that's going around is that we've arrived. But we've arrived at the next round. We haven't won a championship."

Shaquille O'Neal, frustrated by his 6-for-16, seven-turnover performance, said after Saturday's game that his elbows would be flying in the future to match the slapping, elbowing tactics of the Jazz. On Sunday, the Lakers center said the referees have made it clear that this will be a rough series.

"I just know from now I have to look out for myself," O'Neal said. "They're not doing their job effectively. They let certain people do stuff and they don't let other people do stuff. But I see how they're going to let us play now, and that's fine with me."

If O'Neal wants to let his elbows fly, so be it, the Jazz said.

"If he wants to throw them, it's no big thing," forward Antoine Carr said. "All of us are humans. We all have two elbows."

Utah coach Jerry Sloan agreed.

"That's fine. He can do that. That's why we have officials," Sloan said. "If we don't have officials and he starts saying those things, then I'd be concerned because then somebody's going to get hurt. And it will probably be us, because he's so big and strong.

"Our team included, if you do those things, I hope they call it because that's not part of basketball."

Karl Malone, target of many elbow-throwing accusations and the guy who landed one that knocked David Robinson out of the lineup late in the regular season, just grimaced when asked about O'Neal's comments.

"Next question," the power forward said.

The statistics of Saturday's game reflected the blowout. The Lakers shot 29.5 percent, a playoff low for them. The Jazz shot 54.8 percent, using their trademark pick-and-roll over and over again to get wide open shots.

Both teams will make adjustments for Game 2. The Lakers will try to create more room for O'Neal inside, so he isn't so crowded. The Jazz might change the way they defend O'Neal, just to keep him off balance. In Game 1, they sometimes left Greg Foster or Greg Ostertag alone to defend the big guy. When O'Neal would make a move, though, a guard or two would collapse on him, slapping away at the ball.

"I'm sure it frustrated him a little bit, never knowing exactly when two guys were coming down or whether one guy was going to try to hold him," Carr said. "If you're missing shots and not getting what you consider fouls, then it can frustrate you pretty quickly."

It was that frustration that led O'Neal to his comments about elbows, Harris and the other Lakers said.

"Sometimes you have to take what Shaq says figuratively and not literally," Harris said.

Rather than elbow concerns, the Lakers need to look in the mirror long and hard before Game 2, Fox said. Otherwise, Utah will be in the NBA Finals for the second year in a row.

"For me, success is winning an NBA championship; for others it's to make it to the Western Conference finals," Fox said. "Obviously, the Jazz are here to go back to the finals, and we better be here to match it."