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LAKER-CLIPPER REPORT

Gentry Bemoans Rash of Injuries

October 08, 2002|Tim Brown

The Clippers' tentative starting lineup for tonight's exhibition opener against the Lakers at Bakersfield looks nothing like the one Coach Alvin Gentry envisioned when training camp began last week.

The Clippers are battered and bruised.

Andre Miller and Eric Piatkowski will start at guard, as Gentry expected. The rest is a worst-case scenario that has left Gentry angry and frustrated since players began dropping at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert.

Sean Rooks will start at center, replacing Michael Olowokandi, whose sore left knee was examined Monday by team physician Tony Daly. Olowokandi has tendinitis and his status is day to day, according to Daly.

Corey Maggette will start at small forward, filling in for Lamar Odom, who figures to be sidelined until December because of a chronically sprained right ankle.

Cherokee Parks will be the power forward, taking Elton Brand's place. The All-Star underwent arthroscopic knee surgery that may keep him out until November.

Eleven of the 19 players on the training-camp roster have injuries, ranging from minor to serious, that could keep them out of tonight's game. Several probably will play anyway. Brand, Odom, Olowokandi, Keyon Dooling (ankle) and Quentin Richardson (knee) definitely will not.

Richardson's condition was upgraded after an MRI exam to a sprained right knee from a partially torn ligament, Daly said.

"This is my 15th year of coaching in the NBA and I've never experienced anything like it," Gentry said as the Clippers broke camp. "We're going to have to play our young guys. We want to see [draft picks] Chris Wilcox and Melvin Ely in the preseason, but I'm not going to play guys 40 minutes a game in the preseason. I'm not going to do it."

Ely has tendinitis in the big toe of his left foot and Wilcox a strained right thigh. Each is questionable for tonight.

Elliott Teaford

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Laker rookie Kareem Rush has a small place in Venice, where he lives with his brother (and former UCLA player) JaRon and a trainer.

He hangs out with some of the other young players at Laker camp, Jannero Pargo for one, but said he mostly tries not to overextend himself in the first weeks of his NBA career.

Many days, Rush arrives for work and immediately goes about defending Kobe Bryant, because they play the same shooting guard position, and that's a lot to ask from a guy whose head has been in assistant coach Tex Winter's little red book about offense all summer.

"I'm going to get stronger," Rush said of defending the thicker Bryant. "I've always been the bigger guard. I've never had guards post me up before."

Rush is 6 feet 6 and 215 pounds, statistically about Bryant's size, but he doesn't look it.

"I figure everybody else isn't going to be as tough to defend," he said. "I mean, he's scoring on me, but he's not killing me."

The coaching staff has been pleased enough with Rush, who seems to have an easy demeanor, a nice sense about the game and, of course, a very accurate jump shot. "We're hopeful," Coach Phil Jackson said. "If he's talented enough, he's going to play. But, we can't expect anything from him. We have to give him an opportunity to learn."

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Rick Fox and Slava Medvedenko sat out Monday's practice because of back spasms. Fox might not accompany the team to Bakersfield for the exhibition game against the Clippers.... Bryant on Medvedenko, in his third camp with the Lakers: "As far as Slava, he's been in this offense for two or three years and still doesn't know it." He also chided Medvedenko for missing practice "with a scratch on his back."

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