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CLIPPER-LAKER REPORT

Dunleavy Still Not Committed to His Starters

October 24, 2003|Jerry Crowe, Tim Brown | Times Staff Writers

After saying last week that he would take "the full eight [exhibition] games" to determine a starting lineup, Clipper Coach Mike Dunleavy indicated Thursday that he might need even more time.

In fact, on a night when the Lakers unveiled their star-studded starting five for the first time in a 107-101 exhibition loss to the Clippers at the Arrowhead Pond, Dunleavy said he probably would not have a set lineup when the Clippers open the regular season next week, nor anytime soon.

"I think at a couple of positions we may wind up just playing them by committee," said Dunleavy, undecided at center and point guard. "Our focus is going to be on the defensive end of the floor and whoever gives us the best defensive matchup, that guy gets to start, and then we'll go accordingly ... unless somebody separates himself from the pack and says, 'Hey, I'm the guy.' "

It's not an ideal situation, Dunleavy admitted. "You'd rather it not be [unsettled]," he said, "but you've got to do what's called for."

With only Elton Brand, Corey Maggette and Quentin Richardson locked into starting spots, Dunleavy plans to use a nine- or 10-man rotation.

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John Stockton has retired to Spokane, Wash., but he remains a short shorts-wearing presence in the NBA, at least with certain Lakers.

Karl Malone, who played beside Stockton in Utah for nearly two decades, still calls his old friend to share stories about his life outside of Salt Lake City and away from the Jazz. Stockton shares stories about pine beetles.

It is possible, likely even, that Stockton retiring allowed Malone to sign with the Lakers, given the loyalty pangs Malone might have otherwise experienced.

"He's doing great," Malone said. "I miss him. I miss my [former] teammates. But this is my new home now."

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Malone opens the regular season Tuesday night 2,013 points behind all-time points leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a total Malone surpassed 12 times in 18 seasons, but never as a teammate of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

He'll need to average 24.6 points over 82 games this season, the games played perhaps more likely than the scoring average.

Still, he'll have open shots, and he'll have Gary Payton, who'd love to be the next Stockton.

"Me and Karl have a relationship people don't understand," Payton said. "I played against him so many years and looked at John Stockton, who I idolized a lot. I watched tapes of them. I know where he wants the ball, I know what he wants to do. ... Every time I'm coming down the court, I know he's going to be somewhere around. And he's going to get the basketball.

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Rick Fox was cleared by his surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Deland, to increase the intensity of his rehabilitation. ... The Lakers waived Eric Chenowith, Stephane Pelle and Ime Udoka on Thursday. Fifteen players remain in camp; three, including Fox and Brian Cook, will start the regular season on the injured list.

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