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LAKER REPORT

Jackson's OK With Shaq's Limitations

April 16, 2002|Tim Brown

Shaquille O'Neal took no medical treatment Monday on his right knee, slightly strained in Portland on Sunday afternoon, putting him on his back for several minutes in the fourth quarter.

So, that leaves the toe and the wrist and, oh, two or three days in which to heal before the playoffs start this weekend.

The Lakers will play into spring for as long as O'Neal's toe holds. And while that might sound like an unsettling notion for a coach shooting for three-peat No. 3, he claimed it's not.

"I'm not thinking of or concerned with Shaq's foot," Phil Jackson said. "I know what he can do and can't do without it being 100%. If there's a limitation to his game, we can still win with that limitation. He's probably 75, 80% of what he can play at. Maybe not even that. At that level, he becomes more of an offensive force than defensive rebounder, and that's a problem for us. But, we've adjusted around it and I think our defense is a little better now."

*

Between the two free throws that would tie the score, 115-115, in the first overtime on Sunday, Derek Fisher was met with Ruben Patterson and then Bonzi Wells, both trying to wreck his nerves by brushing him, impeding him, talking to him as he made his way back to the line.

Fisher laughed at it then, and made the free throw, but wondered how those tactics were condoned by the referees.

"I know what they were trying to do," Fisher said of Patterson and Wells. "It was ridiculous it was allowed to go on that long."

*

It is at best comical, considering how often he dresses the biggest, baddest matchup issue, maybe ever, but Jackson said this weekend he has serious concerns about how the Lakers line up, position by position, with a few of the Western Conference playoff teams.

"We don't match up well against many teams in this conference," Jackson said. "Maybe San Antonio we have enough big guys to go around and still [Tim] Duncan can be a problem for us. But, we don't match up well against Portland. We don't match up well against Seattle. We still have Shaq. That's the one thing we can create shots around and use effectively, the post passes to Shaquille. But [the Trail Blazers'] speed, quickness, defensive ability, their shooting, penetration, post-up players ... those are all tough.''

An hour later, the Lakers were well on their way to losing in double-overtime to the Trail Blazers, with O'Neal chasing Rasheed Wallace around 25 feet from the basket.

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