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PRO BASKETBALL DAILY REPORT : LAKERS

Blount Makes Spot for Himself

November 03, 1996|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

Something is different about Corie Blount this season. Besides that he's playing.

Actually, Blount was a major contributor early in 1995-96, backing up Elden Campbell at power forward, Vlade Divac at center and even being readied for duty at small forward on an emergency basis. Then he dropped to third string behind Derek Strong. Then, after Magic Johnson arrived, fourth, failing to even get off the bench in the playoffs.

Not being relied on heavily heading into camp, he has worked his way back into the rotation and impressed in general, grabbing a rebound every 3.3 minutes in the eight exhibition games, barely behind the average posted by Shaquille O'Neal. That earned an early chance Friday in the season opener, and Blount capitalized again, getting six rebounds (three offensive) and seven points in 19 minutes.

An off-season weight program helped, adding about 15 pounds, to the mid-250s, mostly in the legs and upper body. The Lakers helped too, deciding it would be best to have him concentrate on playing inside, although he could play some small forward tonight because of injuries and matchup problems with Minnesota's 6-11 Kevin Garnett.

"I'm stronger all over," Blount said. "So that helped me. Helped me a lot."

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