O'Neal, Kersey Like Chances

Riding high even after being knocked off, for the third time in four games against the Portland Trail Blazers at that, the Lakers quickly put Sunday behind them and looked confidently to Friday.

"We're going to be fine," Shaquille O'Neal said. "You just wait and see."

Asked if that meant the Lakers were going to beat the Trail Blazers in the first round, he nodded.

"I don't think they can beat us in a five-game series," said Jerome Kersey, the former Trail Blazer who still lives in Portland and is received warmly by fans at the Rose Garden. "They may prove me wrong, but we'll see."

Even though the Trail Blazers took three of four and now only need to get three of five.

"Because they've got to play us in succession now," Kersey said.

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That Nick Van Exel guarantee that the Lakers would win the Pacific Division or else he would owe the Seattle SuperSonics, including the coaching staff, $100 each apparently wasn't COD. The Lakers lost the game and the title Sunday and he said the bet would be paid in full--just not right now.

"I'm still debating what kind of things I can get them," Van Exel said. "I'm not going to rush it."

He's really not going to rush it.

"I've got all summer," he said.

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The Lakers flew from Portland to Palm Springs on Sunday evening and will hold a mini-camp at College of the Desert through Thursday afternoon, at which time they will bus to Los Angeles before opening the playoffs the next night. One practice and a meeting/film session are scheduled for today, with two-a-days on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then one practice Thursday. . . . The Lakers and Chicago Bulls were the only teams to go the entire regular season without anything longer than a two-game losing streak.

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