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LAKER REPORT

Team's Play Pains Kobe

November 28, 2002|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. — Kobe Bryant said he's hurt too.

His ankle. His shin.

But he's not on the injured list and he's playing 46 minutes a night while the first month of the Laker season burns.

Nearly an hour after the Lakers lost, 112-102, to the Orlando Magic, he continued to gasp for breath, so near was he to anger.

"I don't want to Mike Tyson any of you guys," he said, almost playful. "You know, I love the game so much. You guys can see that when I'm out there. I play extremely hard every single minute.

"I expect my teammates to play the same way. When they don't, it's frustrating. I play every minute like it's my last. Especially guys coming off the bench. They have to play that way. You only get one shot."

Two key players -- Samaki Walker and Devean George -- are injured and inactive.

"We have to get guys healthy," he said. "I understand Samaki has some back problems and he's hurting, but he's not hurting any more than I am. I'm out there playing my butt off every single night. Hurt. Bad ankle. Can't walk. Don't matter. I'm out there playing. They should be out there playing as well. Devean George, he'll be back shortly. We have to get our core guys out there playing basketball right now."

Also, Bryant had a problem Wednesday with the Laker reserves.

"Guys are coming off the bench, their heads are not in the game," he said. "That can be much better."

*

Shaquille O'Neal is off the injured list and dominating games in very short periods, but the process of rebuilding his game on surgically repaired feet will take time, Coach Phil Jackson said Wednesday.

Among other things, O'Neal is adjusting to new orthotics not yet a week old.

"Shaq's not feeling as well as I'd like him to be feeling," Jackson said. "There's a few things that are going on that he's still adjusting to, but he's doing, you know, he's getting the job done."

In his first four games back, O'Neal, suffering from mild tendinitis in his knees, had his minutes increased from 21 to 28 to 32 to 36 Wednesday.

Asked when he expected Shaq to be Shaq again, Jackson smiled and said, "Well, it was the seventh game of the playoffs last year before he started. ... But, no, I think the activity level is so important. Mark Madsen's back, that helps. It gives Shaq somebody to chase things down out there. Robert [Horry], Rick [Fox] and Shaq in the lineup together, we need a hound dog out here chasing loose balls around."

*

The Laker traveling party planned to bus today to O'Neal's mansion at Isleworth, the exclusive Orlando community whose other rich folk include Tiger Woods and Ken Griffey Jr., where O'Neal's chef will serve Thanksgiving dinner.

The kind of food made no difference to Madsen.

"I just want there to be a lot," he said. "I know that won't be a problem at Shaq's."

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