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LAKERS FYI

Knee injury has Farmar out at least three games

December 21, 2008|Mike Bresnahan

ORLANDO, FLA. — Jordan Farmar will sit out at least three games because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, forcing Coach Phil Jackson to shuffle the responsibilities of the Lakers' backcourt.

The backup guard was injured after stealing the ball and going in for a layup in the fourth quarter of Friday's game against Miami.

Farmar sat out Saturday's game against Orlando, will return to Los Angeles today and will be examined by doctors Monday, at which point a status update will be issued by the team.

Depending on the severity of the tear, Farmar might need surgery, though he was reluctant to think that far ahead to a procedure that would probably cost him four to eight weeks of playing time.

"I'm not going to talk with you about that," he said. "I've never been hurt before. I've never had surgery."

In the meantime, Jackson had to do some juggling against Orlando. The main change was more minutes for Derek Fisher, who logged 41 against the Magic, 13 more than his season average.

Fisher, 34, had a season-high 27 points and also had four assists. He said he could keep playing extended minutes for "as long as the team needs me to."

"Whatever we need to do as a group to win," he said. "Injuries are, unfortunately, a part of the job at times.

"That's why when you train in the summer. . . . You're supposed to work in a way that if something like this happens, you continue to bring it. I don't expect that Phil would do it every night, but on the nights that I have to, I'll definitely give it what I've got."

When Fisher sat down for rests, Sasha Vujacic guarded Jameer Nelson or Anthony Johnson, Orlando's point guards. Vujacic also ran the offense a few times and said he would be "very comfortable" if Jackson wanted him to be more of a playmaker than a shooter.

Vujacic, in his fifth season, was a backup ballhandling guard in his second season with the Lakers.

Farmar, 22, is averaging 7.9 points and 2.4 assists in 19.6 minutes a game. He said he never suffered a serious knee injury before Friday, though he was concerned after he felt a tweak in it.

"I'm going back home to get another opinion from our team doctor and some other doctors back home, and just compare opinions and their advice," Farmar said.

The Lakers have been carrying only 14 players, one under the league maximum, though Jackson said nothing was decided yet as far as adding another guard.

"We still have to find out what the deal is going to be with Jordan," he said. "This is something that's not defined yet."

If need be, the Lakers can pick up Coby Karl, who played for them last season and is familiar with the offense, or Joe Crawford, their second-round pick in the June draft. Both players are in the Development League and able to sign with any NBA team.

Karl is averaging 16.4 points and 5.4 assists for the Idaho Stampede. Crawford is the fifth-leading scorer in the Development League, averaging 22 points and 3.6 assists for the D-Fenders, the Lakers' affiliate.

Other veteran possibilities might include Jannero Pargo, who is playing overseas, and Tyronn Lue, who is getting scant playing time in a crowded point-guard situation with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Shaq Jr.?

Jackson became plenty familiar with Shaquille O'Neal as his coach for five seasons. However, he wasn't about to compare O'Neal, listed at 7 feet 1 and 325 pounds, to Orlando center Dwight Howard, listed at 6-11 and 265.

"They're not the same at all," Jackson said. "Dwight's a big guy, but he's not Shaq. Shaq is a mountain.

"I'm not saying that Howard's a molehill, but he's not a mountain."

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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