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SPORTS EXTRA / NBA 2000-01 PREVIEW | LAKER FACTS :
NOTES

Hack-a-Shaq Gets Revisited

October 30, 2000|By TIM BROWN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

If Mike Dunleavy and his staff in Portland spent their entire training camp teaching their pricey new forwards to whack-jack-smack-thwack-and-Hack-a-Shaq, well then that's just fine with Laker Coach Phil Jackson.

Shaquille O'Neal shot a cool 30.4% from the line in the preseason. And, as the Western Conference final rematch loomed Tuesday night in Portland, Dunleavy reminded everyone that Hack-a-Shaq isn't just a diet--it's a lifestyle. He'll crank it up again in the regular season.

"I think it brings the focus right now to it, there's no doubt about it," Jackson said. "I think that's important. And I think Mike's stubborn enough to think that's the right policy. I think it's going to be good for both accounts."

Jackson said he would use the same strategy he did last season. That is, no strategy. He'll let O'Neal find his way.

"The free-throw-shooting situation, the more we pay attention to it the more intense it becomes," Jackson said. "The more tension there is around the situation. We like to set it over on the side and let him work at it through the year so in the playoffs he's in the best shape he can be in. Last year he started off on his own and shot probably 30% until he finally broke through. This year we're hoping that breakthrough comes early enough, where the tension comes from him and he develops a certain rapport with his free-throw shooting. It is a sore spot. We understand that. Anything that's a failure is. A lot of people would like to have a batting average where he shoots free throws. That's not good enough."

Jackson is pulling for a percentage around 70. O'Neal has never even shot 60% for a full season.

*

Jackson hasn't yet settled on his starting small forward, so the season starts with Rick Fox, Robert Horry and Devean George competing for regular minutes there. After starting camp slowly, George has played well for 10 days.

Though he would prefer to settle on a starter, Jackson has hinted that he could make his selection depending on the opponent.

The other personnel issue that will bleed into the regular season is when and how often Isaiah Rider will play.

"Where are minutes going to come from?" Rider said. "I'm going to play. The preseason's over so the rotation we had is over. We'll know after the first game. I may start. I may come off the bench. I don't know, but I'm going to play a lot, I think."

Jackson shrugged.

"We'll see how he goes," Jackson said.

*

Laker forward Robert Horry is expected to rejoin the team in time for Tuesday night's game in Portland. He left the club to be with his grandmother, who recently passed away. . . . The Lakers will make their final roster moves today. One player must be cut and two could be placed on the injured list.

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