The Phoenix Suns and Cotton Fitzsimmons no longer have a cloud over their heads at the Forum in Inglewood.
Fitzsimmons, in 16 years of coaching for Kansas City, Atlanta and San Antonio as well as Phoenix, was 0-for-37 when taking those teams on the road to play the Los Angeles Lakers.The Suns also had a futility record, losing 21 consecutive games at the Forum since 1984.
But it all came to an end Tuesday night as the Suns held Los Angeles without a field goal in the final 31/2 minutes and beat the Lakers 104-102 for a 1-0 lead in their best-of-7 Western Conference playoff series.
The Phoenix Suns ended their coach's personal zero-for-career futility, going back to 1974, on the Lakers' home court with a 104-102 victory in Tuesday night's opening game of their playoff series.
"The streak has nothing to do with this building," Fitzsimmons said. "The streak has to do with the fact that the Lakers had good players and my players weren't so good."
But the Suns' coach didn't deny that dame fortune had something to do with the victory.
"It was the shirt that did it," said Fitzsimmons, who forgot his usual dress shirt and tie and had to borrow a polo shirt with the Suns' logo for the game. "I've worn $85-$95 shirts in here and not won. I may keep this shirt forever."
In other playoff games, Portland took a 2-0 lead over San Antonio with a 122-112 victory and Detroit routed New York 112-77 in their Eastern Conference semifinal opener.
In tonight's only game, Philadelphia is at Chicago in a series the Bulls lead 1-0. Portland is at San Antonio, Phoenix at the Lakers and New York at Detroit on Thursday.
Unheralded center Mark West carried the Suns with 24 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots in 47 minutes.
"Mark West was an unbelievably dominant force," Fitzsimmons said.
Orlando Woolridge's jumper gave the Lakers a 101-98 lead with 3:37 left, but they didn't score again until Magic Johnson made a free throw with four seconds remaining.
Since that left the Lakers trailing by two, Johnson intentionally missed the second free throw, but Kevin Johnson rebounded for Phoenix and time ran out.
The Suns, who trailed 84-78 at the start of the fourth quarter, caught the Lakers at 96 on Eddie Johnson's 3-point basket with 4:25 left.
A basket and free throw by Magic Johnson put the Lakers up 99-96, but a left-handed hook by Tom Chambers, a jumper by Kevin Johnson, a jumper by Eddie Johnson and a free throw by Kevin Johnson gave the Suns a 103-101 lead with 1:23 to play.
A free throw by West made it 104-101 with 24 seconds remaining.
Chambers had 26 points for Phoenix, while James Worthy and Johnson led Los Angeles with 22 each.
Despite the long winning streak at home and the Lakers' 4-0 sweep of Phoenix in last year's playoffs, Los Angeles Coach Pat Riley said he wasn't surprised at the Suns' performance.
"This is the way all the games are going to be against Phoenix - competitive," he said.
Pistons 112, Knicks 77
Detroit, showing no ill effects from a one-week layoff, outscored New York 35-15 in the third period for an 84-53 lead.
The 77 points matched the Pistons' best playoff defensive effort and also was the lowest total ever for the Knicks in the postseason.
Isiah Thomas had 21 points for Detroit and Patrick Ewing scored 19 for the Knicks, but pulled down only four rebounds. Knicks guard Gerald Wilkins scored two points on 1-for-13 shooting.
New York, which beat Boston Sunday to become only the third team to win a best-of-5 NBA series after trailing 2-0, was beaten in every phase of the game by the defending champions, who hadn't played since sweeping Indiana in the first round.
"It was very obvious that we were blown out on the basketball floor and blown out emotionally," Knicks Coach Stu Jackson said. "We didn't have the same energy as we have had in other games. It's going to take a great effort to win one game."
Detroit has now won 11 consecutive playoff games - two short of the NBA record - since losing two of three to Chicago to start last year's Eastern Conference finals. That 1-2 deficit came after another long Pistons layoff.
"The only difference between last year and this is that the club's maturity is a factor," Detroit Coach Chuck Daly said. "Except for a couple of days, we had good practices."
Trail Blazers 122, Spurs 112
Portland protected its homecourt advantage over San Antonio with a 24-8 run at the start of the third quarter.
An 11-4 spurt to end the second quarter gave the Trail Blazers a 63-55 halftime lead. Then they took control of the game in the second half, opening an 87-63 lead with 4:25 left in the third period.
Terry Porter finished with 27 points, while Clyde Drexler had 22 for Portland, which outscored the Spurs 43-16 at the free-throw line. The Trail Blazers are now 5-0 in this year's playoffs.
"Whenever Porter scores like that, we're going to be tough to beat," Coach Rick Adelman said, "because now not only does he find other people, he's putting pressure on because he's taking the game over. I was waiting for that to happen, and he really got it geared up."
Terry Cummings scored 33 points for San Antonio and David Robinson added 31. But 17 of Robinson's points came after Portland built a 20-point lead with 1:41 left in the third period.