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Pro Basketball | LAKER REPORT

Fisher, Madsen Set to Return Within Days

November 20, 2001|Tim Brown

Standing again on the verge of playing basketball-- real basketball--Derek Fisher insisted he did not have to start or play big minutes to be content as a Laker.

Lindsey Hunter, presently and capably playing the point-guard position Fisher left when his foot was broken for the second time in a year, said the same thing a week ago.

And so the Lakers go merrily along, with an 8-1 record, leading the Pacific Division, and about to add Fisher and power forward Mark Madsen to their roster. Both are expected to be activated by the end of the week, almost certainly in time for Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors.

Fisher was cleared Monday to resume a career interrupted twice in two seasons by stress fractures of the navicular bone in his right foot. This time, doctors inserted a screw they believe will hold.

"There can't be any fear or any hesitation," Fisher said. "The plan is already laid out."

Fisher said he would welcome a gradual program, where his early minutes came in relief of Hunter. Coach Phil Jackson has not divulged his strategy.

"The circumstances called for the way I played last year," said Fisher, whose scoring average (11.5) more than doubled his career average (5.4). He then averaged 13.4 points in the playoffs.

"We needed that," he said. "With this basketball team at this point, if I do that, that's fine. But it's definitely not part of the plan. We have so much more balance, so much more depth, it's not necessary for any one of us to carry the load.

"The ultimate goal is to win a championship. When you win, people don't care about who plays a certain amount of minutes. Everybody knows you're on the Lakers, and that's the type of attitude we have to have."

*

It was pleasant enough Monday in El Segundo, where Shaquille O'Neal nodded thoughtfully through a bit of late-practice free-throw instruction from Jackson.

O'Neal has taken to stumbling into the lane after his free throws, occasionally before the ball reaches the rim, and Jackson hoped to clear that up. O'Neal left with a happy wave, insisting he has no problem with anyone, and then Jackson seemed to blame the whole Shaq attack on a lack of sleep.

"You know, there never was anything," Jackson said. "Between the two of us, there's been communication. Obviously, Shaq went through a long week, with a birth [of his daughter], and his coach fining him, flying in late hours and his hard work.

"We're glad we were able to come through this week unscathed, basically. Losing a game [against Phoenix on Friday] isn't bad, with all the things that have gone on with us as a team. He was in a good mood today."

*

Robert Horry, diagnosed by Jackson on Sunday night as being in "misalignment," did not fully participate in Monday's practice.

Jackson said Horry has pain in his back, among other places, because he is compensating for a strained right hamstring.

Horry also took a hard fall beneath the basket in the Lakers' victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Horry apparently will not go to the injured list when Madsen returns, however.

"I wouldn't think it's going to take him that long to get over it," Jackson said.

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