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Laker Status Report

After Their Five-Game Elimination by the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference Semifinals, a Look at Where They've Been and Where They're Going

May 14, 1997|Capsules by SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

* DEL HARRIS

Right about now, he's probably yearning for the days when players merely griped about the rotation. Ah, the simpler days. Harris deserves his share of the blame for the Game 4 blowup with Van Exel--save the argument for the locker room the next time--but also his share of the credit for taking an injury-riddled team within seconds of a division title. You just wouldn't want to be in his shoes after a five-game loss in the second round a year from now.

* Key Season Stat: 56-26.

* Key Playoff Stat: 4-5.

* CORIE BLOUNT

His performance during the second-half rash of injuries might not only have been for the good of the team. It might have been for the good of Blount. The final two years of his contract are not guaranteed, and his play at power forward could very well have been enough to convince the Lakers to pick up the option. A decision is due by July 1.

* Key Season Stat: Averaged 7.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in 27.5 minutes in his 18 starts.

* Key Playoff Stat: Del Harris and a shoulder injury limited him to three appearances and eight minutes.

* KOBE BRYANT

Forget that he's 18, pretty much came in without the benefit of a training camp because of injuries, judge him as any other rookie and you still have a successful season. Overtime of Game 5 against the Jazz was an aberration. In short, when Bryant is an old man of 21, the defenders who draw the short straw and are sent out to guard him will also get a blindfold and cigarette.

* Key Season Stat: Averaged 7.6 points, but 12.4 in the 26 games when he played at least 20 minutes.

* Key Playoff Stat: Didn't supply much offense against Jazz, but the 18.8 minutes, including 29 in Game 5, was the second-most for a reserve on either team.

* ELDEN CAMPBELL

Shockingly, he was inconsistent. His horrendous start, complete with thinly veiled digs from Shaquille O'Neal, became a marvelous showing as the interim starting center and then a very nice end of the regular season and first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers. And then came the second round against the Jazz. Still Elden after all these years.

* Key Season Stat: Increased his scoring average for the seventh consecutive season and his rebounding average for the third consecutive season.

* Key Playoff Stat: Versus Utah: 31 minutes, 5.2 rebounds, 7.8 points.

* DEREK FISHER

Went from being the most prominent of the three Laker rookies to the least, from backup point guard to out of the rotation, but the constant was Coach Del Harris regularly praising Fisher's positive attitude and work ethic. Tenacious defender who needs to become a better shooter. Summer league should help--if all the minutes there aren't going to Bryant.

* Key Season Stat: Committed only 71 turnovers in 921 minutes.

* Key Playoff Stat: A non-factor at 5.7 minutes in six appearances.

* ROBERT HORRY

Would like to re-sign with the Lakers this summer as a free agent, as long as the price is right. Not the kind of player you break the bank for, but the kind of player who can make the difference between a good team and a very good team. Blocks shots better than most small forwards, defends and rebounds, which makes up for the lack of consistent offensive explosion at what is usually regarded as a scoring position.

* Key Season Stat: Averaged 9.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks in 22 games after being acquired from Phoenix.

* Key Playoff Stat: From 28.6% shooting against the Trail Blazers to 54.2% against the Jazz.

* EDDIE JONES

Made the next step, from potential-filled shooting guard to all-star shooting guard. Joined Mookie Blaylock, Gary Payton and Allen Iverson as the only players in the league to average at least 17 points, four rebounds and two steals. He again got considerable time at small forward, even while being physically overmatched. Still the exciting slasher who came three seasons ago as a rookie, but also finished 24th in three-point shooting.

* Key Season Stat: His 17.2 points a game represented the most by a Laker guard in six years.

* Key Playoff Stat: Averaged 2.4 steals during the regular season, but one a game in the postseason.

* JEROME KERSEY

Wild Thing, the Lakers love you. Injuries to the starting small forwards, Cedric Ceballos and Robert Horry, meant Kersey had a much bigger role than expected, but that wasn't necessarily bad. Not the way he played. Began the season thinking he could play another two or three years, then proved it, providing energy and effort with his 35th birthday looming that most players about 10 years younger couldn't match. A free agent who will probably be back unless he goes for the money.

* Key Season Stat: Got a career-high six steals. Four times.

* Key Playoff Stat: Shot 48.6%, averaged 5.3 rebounds.

* TRAVIS KNIGHT

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