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LAKERS REPORT

Rider Working Hard on New Role

November 17, 2000|PAUL GUTIERREZ

SACRAMENTO — While Isaiah Rider can be instant offense off the bench, as evidenced by his 14 points on five-of-six shooting from the field in the Lakers' 112-110 overtime victory over the Sacramento Kings, the reserve guard is still getting used to not starting.

"If I'm in the game, that's when my comfortability is going to come," Rider said after playing 26 minutes Thursday night. "If I'm out of the game, it's going to take longer.

"I just need to be on the floor, I think."

Coach Phil Jackson said that Rider's role is still evolving.

"He's a straight shooter," Jackson said. "The guy's a very good shooter and right now that's mostly his role, and playing some defense. I thought he played the best solid defense for us out there that we could find."

Rider was playing on a bad right ankle he rolled in the second quarter of the Lakers' victory over the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night at Staples Center.

"It's still a little tender," he said. "Hopefully it will get better as the days go by. It should be cool. I mean, it's a little tender but I've been rehabbing it so it's just a matter of not turning it again and as the days go by, it getting stronger."

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Jackson's comments during the playoffs last year of Sacramento being "semi-civilized" and having a certain "redneck" flavor to it were not forgotten by the natives here.

Besides the courtside fan in the cowboy hat who kept pulling his T-shirt collar low and screaming to Jackson, "This is a red neck," during timeouts, the local newspaper greeted the Laker coach with a color cartoon on the front of the sports page.

The Sacramento Bee printed a caricature of Jackson, who revels in such mind games, sitting with his legs crossed, Yoga-style, next to a headline reading "Who does he think he is?"

The Bee even had a 13-question tongue-in-cheek self quiz entitled: Are you a Sacramento Redneck?

"They can stretch it out for quite a while, I'll have to admit that," Jackson said with a laugh. "It's funny. I've got some friends in Sacramento. I don't know where they are, though."

After the game, Sacramento television reporters tried to get him to bite on the fans' reception of him.

"Was anybody here? I didn't notice," Jackson joked. "They were very friendly; they were very complimentary. They said they agreed with me, most of them did, and they were sorry for their actions of last spring."

On the serious side, Jackson did say that having such a rabid home crowd can help.

"I think there are times when it is a deterrent for opponents," he said. " But I think most of all it's encouragement for the homeboys. I think that's the strength of the crowd noise, if anything. It gives the feeling of freedom, of playing with approval for home teams. Benches play better, historically, that's another thing. Calls are better."

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