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Lakers Take Show to Las Vegas for Exhibition Against Suns

Times Staff Writer

The Lakers are back on the mainland and back to reality, if Las Vegas can be called that.

After breaking training camp Saturday in Honolulu, the Lakers returned home here for a media day Monday, then packed their bags again for an exhibition game at 8:05 tonight against the Phoenix Suns in the Thomas and Mack Center. The game will only be broadcast on radio.

The Lakers won their first two exhibitions against the Golden State Warriors in Honolulu, 126-107 and 130-110. The roster was reduced to 14 Monday when Coach Pat Riley cut Scott Meents, a rookie free agent who played in Italy the last 2 seasons, and Kannard Johnson, a free agent from the Continental Basketball Assn.

Two more players will have to go before the Lakers open the regular season Nov. 4 in Dallas. The first 10 spots on the roster are set: forwards A.C. Green, James Worthy, Orlando Woolridge and Tony Campbell; centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Mychal Thompson; guards Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and rookie David Rivers, the team’s No. 1 draft choice.

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Mike Smrek, the team’s third center the last 2 seasons, is facing a challenge from 6-foot 11-inch Mark McNamara, a 5-year National Basketball Assn. veteran who averaged 3.7 points in 42 games. The 12th spot on the roster would appear to be a choice between returnee Milt Wagner and Jeff Lamp, who made the roster last season, only to suffer a season-ending shoulder injury after 3 games.

It’s also possible Riley will keep both Smrek and McNamara.

Woolridge, the free agent who signed with the Lakers this summer after missing the last half of the 1987-88 season with the New Jersey Nets when he entered drug rehabilitation, had his new teammates giving high-fives on the Laker bench during the exhibitions against Golden State. In addition to his considerable offensive skills, Woolridge gives the Lakers something they haven’t had in years--a shot-blocker.

If anything, the Lakers are deeper than they were the last 2 title-winning seasons.

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“To have Tony Campbell, who we got for basically nothing, for a full season--I think he’ll really be productive,” Riley said. “He’s very talented.

“And then to be able to add a player like Orlando Woolridge--that’s really going to stabilize that (small forward) position.

“It takes the pressure off James (Worthy). I think James always felt he had to play, but now he has the support of both players.”

Worthy has chronic tendinitis in his left knee.

“I think A.C. Green sees the challenge of Orlando Woolridge, too,” Riley said. “As soon as I said I was thinking of playing Woolridge at power forward, A.C. (did a double take). It was like, ‘I thought he was going to take James’ job. You mean I got to worry about him, too?’ ”

On Rivers, the guard from Notre Dame, Riley said: “I’m happy with him. I think he’s going to be able to supply for us what we want.”


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