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NBA PLAYOFFS | LAKER NOTES

They Couldn't Defend Against the Voting

May 01, 1997|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

All but calling it a snub, the Lakers reacted with disappointment and surprise Wednesday at not having any players voted first- or second-team all-defense in a poll of head coaches and only one, Eddie Jones, getting any mention at all.

"I think it's really an unusual development that a team such as ours had only one guy get a handful of votes when you consider that we're No. 1 in shot blocking, No. 4 in steals, No. 6 in forcing turnovers, No. 10 in field goal percentage defense," Coach Del Harris said.

"And we did all that with the injuries, so there had to be somebody doing something of a defensive nature.

"I feel like our guys could have gotten a little recognition there. As Laker fans and Laker people, we always want more and think we're not getting enough. But I thought maybe opposing coaches would at least recognize some strengths in what these guys have done."

The media voted on defensive player of the year, which went to Atlanta's Dikembe Mutombo, but coaches decide on the all-defensive team that was announced Tuesday. They chose a first and second team and could not pick any of their players. Thirty-five players got mentions, including Bo Outlaw of the Clippers.

Shaquille O'Neal, third in the league in blocks, got none. Mutombo was the easy first-team selection at center, with Hakeem Olajuwon on the second team, and Alonzo Mourning, Shawn Bradley and Patrick Ewing also receiving votes.

"I've been getting [robbed] for the last five years, so I'm kind of used to it," O'Neal said. "Who cares."

But asked for a reaction to Ewing getting one vote, he replied: "I'd rather not say."

The only consolation for Jones was he was that the best of the rest among the guards, receiving six votes to fall three shy of tying John Stockton for a spot on the second team. It wasn't much consolation.

"I'm very disappointed," he said. "That was one of my goals. Me and Coop [former assistant coach Michael Cooper] talked over the summer about making the all-defensive team.

"Not making it tells me one thing. I just need to work on that aspect of my game a little more. I think it's like this: Once a guy makes it, it's really hard to not make it the next years. It's already in the coaches' heads."

*

George McCloud, left off the playoff roster in disappointment, has now left the Lakers with their permission, probably for the season. Maybe even permanently, if he doesn't re-sign as a free agent. Most players usually stay with their teams for practice and support, but McCloud, acquired Feb. 20, apparently didn't feel as though he had put down enough roots. . . . The previous six times the Lakers and Trail Blazers met in the playoffs, the winner reached the NBA finals: the Lakers in 1983, '85, '89 and '91, and Portland in 1977 and '92.

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