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Coach Says He’s Not Worthy

Former Laker star James Worthy, now broadcasting SuperSonic games, seeing his former teammate, the coach, in a Forum hallway before the game:

“My God, what’s the world coming to? Kurt Rambis!”

Said Rambis, laughing, “It’s definitely going downhill.”

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The Lakers, whose double-teaming-and-rotating defense was burned to a crisp last season, are trying to play better individual defense this season, so Dennis Rodman’s arrival is timely.

“He’s going to be huge,” Rambis said. “I feel very comfortable putting him on people, letting him go one-one-one. I also feel very confident that if a shot goes up, he’s got as great a chance--no, he has a greater chance--of getting the ball than the other nine guys on the court. I don’t have to teach him anything. I don’t have to instruct him on anything, just put him out on the floor and away he goes. . . .

“We are trying to emphasize, as much as possible, a good one-on-one, stay-home-type defense, putting the onus on the players, that they have to take individual responsibility for all the people that they guard. We were doing that when Del [Harris] was here.”

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The return of Rick Fox: The backup small forward went into Friday’s game having scored 48 points in 56 minutes in his last four games.

“I think Rick is feeling better,” Rambis said. " . . . It’s tough to play with pain, it really is. It plays a lot on you mentally. It takes away a lot from your focus and concentration and I think he had to deal with that for a while. But I think now he’s playing better, his confidence is back, we’ve corrected a few things. . . .

“He’s just an attacking player. He was playing passively. He was hesitating. That’s not his game. That’s never been his game.”

Of course, before Fox hit the Rockets for 21 points in the last 19 minutes of last Sunday’s game, there was some question what his role was to be. Rambis had just taken over. Rodman had just joined the team and Robert Horry had gone into the game as the backup small forward in the first half.

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“I think all the roles, with a new coach, seem to be up in the air,” Fox said. “For the most part, I think we were all back to square one, with Kurt taking over. . . . But it’s a long season, even though it is a short season.”


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