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Knight, Bryant Honored

NBA PLAYOFFS | LAKER NOTES

May 07, 1997|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SALT LAKE CITY — The 29th pick in the draft was officially recognized Tuesday as one of the 10 best rookies in the league this season, the mere notion of which would have been a shock seven months ago.

"I think everybody in training camp would have laughed at it," Travis Knight said. "Including me."

Knight--chosen by the Chicago Bulls, renounced in a salary-cap move soon after, and signed by the Lakers for the rookie minimum--was supposed to be a project whose promise would not be fulfilled until 1997-98, at the earliest. Instead, he proved ahead of his time, a gangly 7-footer with range, promising post skills and energy who filled in as the starting power forward during the run of injuries and flourished.

When the all-rookie team was announced before the Lakers played the Utah Jazz in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals, it was revealed just how much. Only seven players--all lottery picks and all but Stephon Marbury of the Minnesota Timberwolves on teams headed back to the lottery--got more votes than Knight, a second-team selection after barely being a first-round pick.

"A lot of that has to do with the injuries," Knight said. "But I got the chance, and Coach [Del] Harris had confidence in me."

Kobe Bryant finished just behind Knight in voting of head coaches, making the Lakers only the third team to place two people on the all-rookie team the same season, joining Miami's Glen Rice and Sherman Douglas and San Antonio's David Robinson and Sean Elliott. The squad has been chosen since 1963, and a second-team was added in 1989.

The Lakers' third rookie, Derek Fisher, finished 14th in the voting.

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Corie Blount, after improving enough to rejoin the Lakers on Monday night, was back in uniform for the first time after sitting out the last three games because of a sprained shoulder, but did not play. "He hasn't even been through meetings for game plans, so he'll have to wait," Harris said. . . . X-rays on the left forearm of Sean Rooks, a precaution after a Game 1 collision with Karl Malone, were negative. He was available but didn't play. . . . The Lakers' 34.2% from the field Sunday was their second-worst playoff shooting performance in the Los Angeles era, behind only the 33.7% on April 7, 1974, at Milwaukee.

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