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Magic has been lucky charm for rookie head coaches

Mike Dunleavy is trying to become the fifth man to win a National Basketball Association title in his first season as head coach. You have to like his chances with Magic Johnson in the lineup. The past two rookie coaches to win it all were Paul Westhead in 1980 and Pat Riley in 1982, both with the Lakers. Johnson was the starting point guard on both of those championship teams.

Bulls ready for Game 2 charge

Chicago's players realize the importance of winning Game 2 and not going to Los Angeles down 2-0.

Two teams have come back from 2-0 deficits to win the championship series. Boston came back to beat the Lakers in 1969, and Portland rallied to defeat Philadelphia in 1977. Both lost the first two games on the road, then went home and regained their touch. No team has won the title after losing the first two games at home.

After tonight, the next three games are in Los Angeles. Teams that win Game 1 have gone on to win 31 of 44 final series (70.5 percent).

But since the NBA went to a 2-3-2 format for the finals, the team with the two sets of home games has won nine of 10 series. The exception was when the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in 1985.

"The Lakers have to be considered the favorites now that they're up 1-0," Bulls guard John Paxson said. "But it's just one game. That's the only way we can approach it."

Levingston boldly predicts

Chicago's Cliff Levingston raised some eyebrows when he picked the Bulls over the Lakers in five games.

"We came into the league together, and Cliff was talking then," Lakers guard Terry Teagle said. "It's nice to see that he's still talking."

Stern favors prime time

NBA commissioner David Stern said the switch of Games 4 and 7 from the afternoon to prime time may result in all future finals being played exclusively in prime time.

"It's an opportunity to include all the kids and family audiences," Stern said. "The NBA made the request to have some good family-hour time. We discussed doing this during (TV contract) negotiations (with NBC) _ the concept of making it a prime-time event."

Game 1 of the championship series drew a 16.4 overnight rating in 25 cities, the highest for a Sunday afternoon NBA playoff game.

Pfund to follow Riley?

Lakers assistant coach Randy Pfund is rumored to be leaving Los Angeles for the Knicks. He would join Riley, who gave Pfund his start in the NBA when New York's new coach was leading the Lakers. Pfund would not comment on the situation.

Divac: Take NBA right away

Lakers center Vlade Divac said he thinks former Yugoslavian teammate Toni Kukoc erred by signing to play in Italy rather than with the Bulls.

"It was not a mistake for the money, but for basketball," Divac said. "He has to play now in the NBA to make good points for his career. If he comes in three or four years, it will be too late.

"The Italian League is so soft, and he'll play at just one level and can't learn over there. I guess he's just homesick, but he made a mistake. I feel he'll want to come in, but it might be too late for him."