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MINNESOTA VS. LAKERS | LAKER NOTES

Fisher Plays With Knee Sprain

June 01, 2004|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

Derek Fisher played 27 minutes despite a sprained right knee, an injury he suffered in the final 30 seconds of Game 5 in Minnesota. After a day of swelling and soreness, Fisher was given an MRI exam, which revealed a sprained ligament.

He experienced significant improvement overnight. On Monday afternoon, he was one of the first Lakers on the Staples Center floor, where he shot jumpers with his brother, Duane Washington, as he always does, and nodded to trainer Gary Vitti after about five minutes.

In the final possessions Saturday night, Fisher jumped to steal a pass directed at Kevin Garnett. He turned as he landed and his knee twisted.

Kareem Rush was the first guard off the bench Monday; Fisher entered the game late in the first quarter.

He finished with four points and six assists.

*

Given a deadline of April 1 to notify USA Basketball of his Olympic decision, Shaquille O'Neal had told the organization he could not know by then and therefore would have to decline.

Still, O'Neal's representatives believed that if his situation changed -- for instance, if the Lakers did not go deep into the playoffs -- there probably would still be room on the Olympic roster.

Since O'Neal was first approached, he told USA Basketball that, like Karl Malone, his first priority was to recover from this season and prepare for next season.

"If they were able to get to the Finals, which they did," O'Neal's agent, Perry Rogers said, "we knew he would need time for rest and to build up his body through summer workouts. Those steps need to be taken, and nothing has changed."

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Phil Jackson has not denied a certain sentimentality for the Lakers and the NBA in recent months but said he experienced none of that Monday, potentially his last day of work at Staples Center.

"It didn't occur to me," he said. "I thought, 'We're coming for a ballgame, traffic's great, rather be on the beach.' "

Jackson's contract expires at the end of the season.

*

Jackson watched Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals for as long as he could Sunday night and moved on to other things.

"I'm not going to say it was past my bedtime at halftime," he said, "but there were other things that were happening."

Some of Jackson's children are in town; he had dinner with them.

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