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LAKER REPORT

Jackson Will Decide His Status Today

February 25, 2003|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

Phil Jackson was resting at home Monday night after after undergoing a one-hour procedure to remove a kidney stone at Centinela Hospital Medical Center.

Team physicians said the sound-wave procedure was a success but Jackson will determine today if he is well enough to coach the Lakers tonight against the Clippers. Jackson was released Monday night.

"They're very pleased with the results," Laker spokesman John Black said after speaking to team internist John Moe, who supervised a procedure performed by Dr. Lawrence Paletz.

After Monday's practice, when it was clear Jackson had come through the morning well but unclear when he would return to the bench, Shaquille O'Neal cracked a mischievous smile. Only last week, Jackson had hinted he'd hoped O'Neal would play despite a sore toe and knee, and there was a short time when O'Neal seemed insulted by the inference that he had put his pain tolerance ahead of the team good.

So, seated on a table in the team's practice gym, O'Neal mockingly said it perplexed him that he hadn't heard anything from the doctors or team trainer, Gary Vitti, on the subject of Jackson's condition.

"I think he should just suck it up and show up," O'Neal said, still smiling. "I think he should coach through the pain."

If Jackson does not return in time, assistant Jim Cleamons will coach in his place.

*

The streak survives. Kobe Bryant has scored at least 40 points in nine consecutive games, at least 35 in 13. The Lakers have won 11 of the 13.

"If Phil comes to me tomorrow and says, 'I want you to go back to being a facilitator,' I'll do that in a heartbeat," said Bryant, who received treatment for a swollen right knee.

Perhaps it does not have to be one or the other.

In 13 remarkable games, Bryant has averaged 42.4 points, shot 48.7%, 45.5% from the three-point arc and 85.6% from the free-throw line.

Also, since Jan. 29, the day Bryant scored 40 points in a victory at Phoenix and launched a scoring streak that has caught or passed all but Wilt Chamberlain, he has played 543 of a possible 629 minutes, or 86.3%, dragging a knee, not to mention defenders and expectations. He played three of the games without O'Neal and won two of them, practically by himself.

"I've never seen anything like it," O'Neal said. "It's all about winning. I guess if we're winning, I guess it's OK. I guess."

All of it, Rick Fox said, is fine. Because Bryant's game isn't the only thing that has grown. Lately, when the bad shots or bad decisions come, according to Fox, Bryant is the first to come clean with his teammates.

"The younger Kobe never saw himself as wrong," Fox said. "That shows us as teammates he's concerned about ... what we're doing as a group. He's not being selfish or malicious.

"He beats us to it. We don't have to ask him, 'What kind of a shot was that?' "

*

Power forward Samaki Walker took a Cortisone injection in his sprained right ankle Monday and said he experienced some improvement, though the team considers him doubtful for tonight's game.

Walker spent time on an exercise machine, did some light running and shooting, but is limited laterally.

*

Tex Winter turns 81 today.... The Lakers have chosen not to pursue Denver Nugget guard Chris Whitney, a player they considered signing if he were released and then cleared waivers. Whitney said Monday his agent was talking to the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers.... Mark Bryant, Tyrone Hill, Horace Grant and Stanley Roberts continue to be possible front-court additions. Bryant (Boston) and Hill (Cleveland) would have to be waived by their teams and clear waivers.... Bryant was named Western Conference player of the week. Tracy McGrady was named from the Eastern Conference.

*

TONIGHT

Lakers vs. Clippers

7:30, Fox Sports Net

Site -- Staples Center

Radio -- KLAC-AM (570), XTRA (1150), KWKW (1330), KIRN (670)

Records -- Lakers 30-25, Clippers 19-35.

Lakers vs. Clippers -- 2-0.

Update -- In two games against the Clippers, Bryant has averaged 29.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.5 assists.

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