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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

Some of the Laker Issues Linger on the Perimeter

November 07, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

My youngest daughter made 138 three-pointers when she was a junior in high school, which makes her a better shooter than anyone playing for the Lakers.

I'd bring this to the attention of Phil Jackson, but I don't want to be accused of acting like Glen Rice's wife.

Come to think of it, since my daughter is a chip off the old block, that probably makes me a better shooter than anyone playing for the Lakers.

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OBVIOUSLY IT'S A serious situation, because the most exciting show in town right now is being put on by the young swashbuckling Clippers, and while the plodding Lakers are going to be L.A.'s most successful outfit, let's hope the championship doesn't come down to a 15-foot shot of any kind.

We already know that if you have Shaquille O'Neal standing 15 feet from the basket, the clock stopped and all activity around him coming to a halt, he's going to stiff-arm the ball, sending a line drive with every intention of trying to push it directly through the front of the rim.

The guy is strong, but not that strong.

His teammates? The Clippers exposed them as the gang that can't shoot straight the other night. If you have seats under the Laker basket, beware of falling bricks.

Before playing the Lakers, Clipper Coach Alvin Gentry said his team had a simple plan of attack: Let everyone but Shaq shoot all they want.

"We're going to give up a ton of jump shots," Gentry said. "With Glen Rice not around, you can cheat more on Shaq, so we'll make Robert Horry and Brian Shaw and Horace Grant shoot and keep shooting."

The Clippers were up by five in the fourth quarter. Take away the NBA's punishment for a zone defense, and the Lakers might never win.

Who's going to pull the sagging defense off Shaq?

In the second half, the Lakers made only two shots from 15 feet or more--Kobe Bryant nailing a third quarter buzzer-beater and Isaiah Rider draining an off-balance three-pointer to beat the 24-second clock in the fourth quarter. That's 24 minutes of NBA play and two successful jump shots.

Bryant likes to shoot from long range, and he'd be willing to back up to half-court to do it, but right now Jackson seems intent on tempering his game. Rider is offensive, but not in the same manner or with the same discipline that Rice, Steve Kerr and John Paxson possess.

Too bad the Clippers and Lakers can't share Eric Piatkowski.

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UCLA BASKETBALL COACH Steve Lavin said he used "poor judgment" when he allowed Dodger General Manager Kevin Malone to call the youth coach of a player being recruited by the Bruins, "and it's something I've definitely learned from."

That's a parent's biggest worry: Hanging around with the wrong crowd.

According to a UCLA statement, Lavin probably will receive a letter of reprimand for committing a secondary recruiting violation.

Lavin and Malone, who formed the Bull's-Eye Club last year because they felt they were unfairly targeted by the media, attended a World Series game together at Shea Stadium last month. Malone later left a message on an answering machine he believed belonged to the youth coach, but because Lavin had given him the wrong number, the message went instead to the mother of the recruit, Mater Dei's Jamal Sampson.

Call it one of those silly little coincidences, but when Sampson's family received the message, he was scheduled to make an official visit to UCLA two days later. After hearing the message, however, the trip was canceled and Sampson announced he had committed to Cal.

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MALONE INVITED USC football Coach Paul Hackett to become a member of the Bull's-Eye Club, but Hackett could not understand why.

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AN ANGRY Bobby Ross once told me that God would be my judge. I told him, "In the meantime I will be yours," and now I get my chance.

What a great man. Too sensitive for today's sometimes uncaring professional athlete, but what a great man. His biggest fault was caring too much, taking too much of the blame for those who did not care as he did, and apologizing to the world every time his team lost.

He should have remained a college coach, considering the impact he could have had on young people, and I'm guessing the final years of his career would have been a lot happier and more satisfying.

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FOR THOSE OF us who believed in Rich Gannon and the Raiders from the start, this year is no surprise. Frankly, I don't understand why others didn't see the same thing.

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FOR THOSE OF us who believed in the Saints from the start, this year is no surprise. Frankly, I don't understand why others didn't see the same thing.

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FOR THOSE OF us who picked Jacksonville from the very start to play in the Super Bowl, frankly, it's preventing us from being perfect.

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THE NEXT NFL coach up from the college ranks probably will be Butch Davis, a disciple of Jimmy Johnson. Davis is 47-20 with Miami.

I wouldn't be surprised if he already has been hired by Washington owner Daniel Snyder. I mean Norv Turner already has been fired--he just doesn't know it.

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NOW WE'RE GOING to find out if UCLA Coach Bob Toledo really is a master motivator. He's going to have to convince his young men to finish third, instead of fourth, so they can go to El Paso instead of playing a bowl game in Hawaii.

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TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Tom:

"Don't know if you caught the season premiere of 'The Simpsons,' but Homer divides the city, declares himself mayor and says, 'Now all we have to do is sit back and wait for an NFL franchise.' A rep from the Arizona Cardinals shows up, and Homer tells him, 'Keep walking.' "

I'd like to think our mayor would be just as smart as Homer, but then I'm just one of those "the glass is half full" kind of guys.

T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address:t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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