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LAKERS REPORT

Recent Thrashing by Rockets Proves Instructive Now

May 07, 1999|TIM KAWAKAMI

The Lakers do not exactly have to scramble around for video of the Houston Rockets playing at their best and exploiting a frazzled opponent's deepest weaknesses.

In preparation for the first-round playoff matchup that begins Sunday at the Great Western Forum, all the Lakers have to do is go over their April 26 game at Houston, a 102-80 Rocket victory.

"There's a lot of things we definitely would not want to repeat," said Laker Coach Kurt Rambis, who led his team through a light, teaching workout Thursday at the Forum before heading into a long full-team video session after lunch.

"But looking at things you do wrong can be just as good of a learning tool as things you do right."

In that game, the Lakers put up fast shots, turned the ball over 18 times and basically played into the hands of Scottie Pippen (26 points, six steals) and Charles Barkley (20 points, 16 rebounds, six assists) as Houston's fastbreak outscored the Lakers', 26-4.

It was a low point, from which the Lakers' four-game winning streak to close the regular season was formed.

"I think so," said Kobe Bryant, when asked if the Lakers needed the Houston loss, following a 27-point defeat in San Antonio, to kick-start their attitude adjustment, all the way through Glen Rice's mammoth 40-point performance in Wednesday's victory over the Trail Blazers.

"We're a young team. It's like your mother telling you to go outside and play. You have to fall on your face a couple times to understand what she's talking about. . . .

"I think we come down, take quick shots, we're going to have long rebounds, especially when we're taking deep threes, and that's when Pippen's at his best, that's when Houston's at its best."

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Rambis said he will conduct a hard practice today before scaling back again Saturday.

"We've still got a bunch of little things we need work on, but guys need rest too," Rambis said, explaining Thursday's light workout after the victory over Portland.

"This was a teaching day for us, a day to go over some things timing-wise offensively and defensively, our game plan against the Rockets."

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Some regular-season stats for this series: The Lakers finished second in league scoring offense (99 points a game) and 25th in scoring defense (96); the Rockets were seventh in offense (94.2) and 15th in defense (91.9).

The Lakers were the NBA's top field-goal shooting team at 46.8%; the Rockets were third at 46.2%. The Lakers had a 10-8 record after April 1; the Rockets were 9-10 in that same period.

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