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Fisher Ready for Fresh Start in First Round

He knows all the ways it will be different in the postseason. The pace. The intensity. The adjustments.

The crowd.

“They’ll probably be on time,” Derek Fisher said.

See, he’s not such a playoff novice, after all. But in every other way, Fisher is a virtual newcomer, having played in two series with the Lakers last season, but for only 34 minutes while appearing in six of nine games.

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And Friday night, he’ll be the starting point guard.

“No, I really don’t get nervous a lot,” Fisher said Wednesday after the Lakers concluded their three-day mini-camp at College of the Desert, dismissing any notion he might be feeling some pressure as the opener against the Portland Trail Blazers approaches. “Sometimes I get real anxious. You look forward to certain times in your life and certain times in your career, but once the game gets going, I’m sure I’ll be fine. Really, it’s harder in the time leading up to it.

“I’m definitely getting more and more excited. This is another season, and the level of play will rise. But all I have to continue to do is go out and be myself.”

That’s the good part.

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“There’s no pressure on me--nobody expects me to make a lot of noise,” he said.

But it still will be a change from last season. Fisher reached double digits in minutes only once, Game 1 against the Trail Blazers, then played nine in the next game and never more than five after that.

Starting Friday, he plays first.

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The NBA, asked by the Lakers for what was basically a ruling on semantics, said Los Angeles officially will be listed as the second-place team in the Pacific Division in future record books, not as co-champion despite the 61-21 record that matched that of the Seattle SuperSonics.

The Lakers are free to call themselves shared owners of the title, but any list from the league will show the SuperSonics as the winners because Seattle had a 3-1 advantage in the season series.

League officials carried over the tiebreaking procedure used for playoff seedings to make this determination.

“That doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Laker Coach Del Harris, who had asked for the clarification. “But it doesn’t matter at this point, whether we are or are not. What we’re interested in is what’s ahead. It really doesn’t matter. We weren’t going to hang a banner up that said co-champions anyway.”

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Harris had conceded from the start it was a minor point, “but it’s something that I would like my players to get credit for.”

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Kobe Bryant returned to practice after sitting out Tuesday and part of Monday because of back spasms. His availability for the playoff opener was never threatened.

Any lingering doubts about his condition before the Lakers broke camp should have been answered when he flew in from the perimeter for a put-back of a missed free throw in which the greatest injury he could have suffered would have come from banging his elbow on the rim.

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Harris said he was relatively pleased with the three days in Palm Desert, especially the play Wednesday.

“The guys did all right,” he said. “As coach or director of the school play, you’d always like more time before you raise the curtain. But they’re coming along.”


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