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Lakers control the tempo with methodical offense

The Los Angeles Lakers' ball-control offense worked to perfection in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The Lakers took only 66 shots from the field, which ties an NBA record for fewest field-goal attempts since the 24-second clock was adopted in 1954-55. The Lakers had 66 attempts against New York on May 4, 1970.

The slower pace helped keep the Bulls' explosive offense in check. The 90 points was Chicago's second-lowest output of the post-season.

"I thought the Lakers played their game. They kept it at their tempo," Chicago coach Phil Jackson said. "They lived at the (foul) line. That was the difference in the ballgame."

The Lakers nearly doubled Chicago's free-throw output. Los Angeles was 28-of-34 from the foul line (82.4 percent), and the Bulls hit 14 of 18 free throws (77.8 percent).

To start the game, the Lakers' frontcourt took 19 of the first 27 shots, establishing a dominant low-post personality.

"They played a very conservative offense, and they controlled the tempo a lot," Chicago guard John Paxson said. "They play their best in a half-court game, and that is something we have to overcome."

Taking care of the ball

Another reason for the Lakers' success in Game 1 was that the team committed just 13 turnovers. The Bulls had forced their playoff opponents to turn the ball over an average of 15.9 times a game, creating numerous fastbreak opportunities and high-percentage shots in transition.

But with the Lakers slowing the tempo and keeping mistakes to a minimum, the Bulls appeared to lose some of the defensive spark that was a trademark in their four-game sweep of Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals.

"We have to be more offensive-minded and put the defensive trap on them more," Chicago forward Horace Grant said.

No strangers to playoffs

The Lakers are making their 15th consecutive playoff appearance, the longest streak of any NBA club. In fact, the Lakers have made the playoffs in 31 of the past 33 seasons, missing only in 1975 and 1976. The Lakers have failed to qualify for the playoffs in only three years of their existence: 1958, 1975 and 1976.

At home on the road

The Lakers are noted Road Warriors. They defeated Portland in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, ending the Trail Blazers' playoff homecourt winning streak of six this season and snapping a two-year undefeated streak at home.

"We've won without it and lost with it," James Worthy said of the homecourt factor. "I don't see it as a major factor. Maybe for the first two or three minutes of the game when the fans are noisy, but once the ball goes up, it's anyone's game."

Counting Sunday's victory, the Lakers are 12-3 in this year's playoffs, 7-1 at home and a remarkable 5-2 on the road. The Lakers ended a six-game playoff winning streak for the Bulls and their 15-game home playoff winning streak.

_ JOHN HARRIS

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