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LAKER-CLIPPER REPORT

Pain Keeps Jackson Off the Bench

February 26, 2003|Tim Brown and Elliott Teaford | Times Staff Writers

Feeling better but not up to taking his place on the Laker bench, Coach Phil Jackson continued his recovery from Monday's procedure to remove a kidney stone and did not attend Tuesday night's game against the Clippers.

Jackson had not missed a game in more than 12 seasons as an NBA coach, according to the Lakers, spanning 957 regular-season games through Sunday and an additional 210 playoff games since 1989.

Team physicians deemed the procedure successful, given the stone was shattered and gradually was passing. Jackson had pain and discomfort throughout the day Tuesday, according to club official John Black, who spoke several times with Jackson on the telephone.

Assistant coach Jim Cleamons also spoke with Jackson and they discussed briefly the Clippers and elements of a game plan.

"I'm not expecting anything dramatic to happen," Cleamons said.

Jackson's style would seem to have prepared the Lakers to go it without him. As Rick Fox observed, Jackson often "left us out there to figure things out by ourselves."

"We're going to be accountable either way," Fox said.

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By Friday's game in Seattle, the Lakers will have played 11 games in 18 days, a stretch that has tested, among other things, the tendinitis in Kobe Bryant's left knee. After Friday, the Lakers have four days off and then they will play three games in the first 10 days of March.

As for the coming off days, Bryant smiled and said, "That's it. That's the lake in the desert."

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Robert Horry, on an ESPN interview show that will air today, when asked who was better between Shaquille O'Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon: "Olajuwon is better, but Shaq is improving and Shaq is going to be the best."

Horry won championships with Olajuwon in 1994 and 1995, and the last three with O'Neal.

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Samaki Walker sat out his third consecutive game because of a sprained right ankle.

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At long last, the answer to the question of "Who's that dude wearing Andre Miller's uniform?" appears to be "Andre Miller."

Miller's scoring is down, his assists are up and his turnovers are way, way down over the last three games before Tuesday's game against the Lakers. He averaged 10 points, 10 assists and 1.3 turnovers in that stretch. His season averages are 14.4 points, 7.3 assists and three turnovers.

"I think he's been beat up and hurt," Coach Alvin Gentry said, referring to Miller's physical and mental states. "I think he's finally healthy. He's not a guy who complains, so ... He is playing better. I don't think he's played the way he anticipated, but he's played better and we've played better. We just don't have anything tangible to show for it. It's the story of our season."

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CLIPPERS TONIGHT

vs. Golden State, 7:30

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- XTRA (1150), KTNQ (1020, Spanish).

Records -- Clippers 19-36, Warriors 27-30.

Record vs. Warriors -- 1-1.

Update -- The teams each have won on the other's floor. The Warriors have won three consecutive games, over Denver, Atlanta and New York, after losing three in a row, against Portland, Boston and Minnesota. Earl Boykins gives the Warriors a lift off the bench.

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