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Key to Game Looks Like Entry Passes

June 02, 2002|Tim Brown

The Lakers had their usual shooting issues from the outside in Friday's Game 6 at Staples Center, so it's no surprise their offensive mistakes were made in trying to get the basketball to Shaquille O'Neal, who squashed Vlade Divac and Scot Pollard en route to 41 points and 17 rebounds.

For all the talk of scoring balance and role-player involvement, however, if the officials allow O'Neal the same aggressiveness in Game 7 at Arco Arena, the Laker perimeter players will try the same high-risk entry passes today.

"His activity level was increased," said Rick Fox, who passed up open shots to get the ball to O'Neal. "His movement across the lane and his position at the basket was great. And then his teammates, when he speaks of wanting the ball and bringing the ball to him, nothing should change our focus of seeing him in the lane and whenever he's available getting the ball to him."

Laker Coach Phil Jackson said he expected the focus today to be on the time O'Neal spends in the lane, which the Kings and television announcers charged was often longer than the allowable three seconds.

"We created spacing for Shaquille so he could move through the lane," Jackson said. "In the past games, they crowded the lane and they made it difficult to move, because he had two bodies on him all the time, either holding him off or keeping him at bay. This game we provided more space for him by different movements in our offense."


Ahead by a point in Game 6 and desperate to clear Mike Bibby for an inbounds pass, Kobe Bryant, who is 6 feet 7, frantically pushed through and inadvertently caught the 6-1 guard in the nose with his right forearm.

Bibby played the last 13 seconds with tissue paper wadded into his right nostril, and Bryant wouldn't even shrug.

Besides, Bryant said, Bibby started it by holding him.

"You could have called a foul first, when he grabbed me," Bryant said. "You could have called that foul. I think it was a good no-call."


Samaki Walker's bruised left knee has slowed him enough that Jackson has gone more to Robert Horry (43 minutes in Game 6) and even to Slava Medvedenko (five minutes in Game 6, after playing two in the previous five).

"I think Samaki's not moving with freedom," Jackson said. "He carried that brace out there on his leg and I could see that he was laboring. Really, you've got to have all your faculties about you in a game like this."

The Kings got the ball to Chris Webber with Medvedenko in the game, and Medvedenko was assessed two fouls in his brief playing time. Walker, who blocked three shots in 13 previous playoff games, blocked two in four possessions Friday.


It's not their typical game, but the Lakers have attempted 47 more three-point shots in the series than the Kings have, and made only four more.

They were four for 15 from the three-point line in Game 6. Fox, Horry and Derek Fisher were a combined three for 11.

"I thought [Friday] we shot the ball better," Jackson said, and grinned.

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