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No Kobe, but the ‘Stopper’ Awaits

The Lakers get their first look tonight at the reborn Ruben Patterson, a 1998 Laker second-round draft pick who has been one of the surprises of the season with the Seattle SuperSonics.

Patterson, who averaged 2.7 points and 1.3 rebounds in 24 appearances as a Laker last season, signed with Seattle in the off-season and has started all 14 games at small forward, averaging 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds.

“It’d be pretty tough for him to be in our kind of offense,” Laker Coach Phil Jackson said, specifically pointing to Patterson’s wobbly shooting skills and the small forwards the team already had.

“Ruben fits in really well [with Seattle’s more wide-open system],” Jackson said. “Runs well, scrums the ball out, good offensive rebounder, a lot of hustle.”

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No surprise to anybody who witnessed his bruising performances in Laker practices, Patterson has gotten raves for his energy and aggressive play.

Patterson also caught the Lakers’ attention by calling himself the “Kobe stopper,” saying he regularly shut down Kobe Bryant in practice.

“I was at practice every day,” guard Derek Fisher said. “You don’t really have to think about what he’s saying. It’s good that he has that type of confidence, but there’s no one guy I think in this league that can stop Kobe or many other guys in this league.”

TONIGHT

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at Seattle, 7

Channel 9

* Site--Key Arena.

* Radio--KLAC (570).

* Records--Lakers 10-4, SuperSonics 11-3.

* Record vs. SuperSonics (1999)--2-2.

* Update--Seattle is 6-0 at home, with victories over Indiana and Utah. Guard Gary Payton is, as usual, leading the way, averaging 22 points, 9.9 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals. Taller Laker guards Ron Harper and Brian Shaw will probably be matched up on him. Shaw returned to practice Monday after sitting out Sunday’s practice because of a sore ankle.


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