Kaman Might Play After Appendectomy
The Clippers don’t beat the Lakers that often -- 20-76 since the Clippers moved to Los Angeles, with four consecutive losses, including the 103-89 defeat Nov. 17. And they may be without two big men in tonight’s game. Elton Brand must serve a one-game suspension for shoving Charlotte Bobcat rookie Emeka Okafor on Monday, and Chris Kaman underwent an emergency appendectomy Wednesday. Kaman, who sat out the season’s first 11 games because of a sprained left ankle, hopes to play. “It depends on the shoot-around [this morning], how I feel when I jump and twist and run,” he said. “But I’m going to try.”
Doctors, he said, assured him he would not be at risk if he played. “It would just be a lot of pain,” he said. “I think I can handle that.”
Said Coach Mike Dunleavy: “I’m open to whatever the doctor tells me. ... I love the fact that he wants to do it, or thinks he could do it. But we’ll see.”
Regardless of Kaman’s status, the Lakers were not dismissive in talking about their Los Angeles rival before practice Friday.
“When you lose guys ... it gives other guys the chance to play,” Laker Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. “A lot of times, it takes the pressure off, and you play free and easy.
“I just know from experience these are the most dangerous games we’ll play all year.”
Lamar Odom, the Lakers’ leading rebounder with a 10.8 average, won’t miss having to fight for inside position against Brand, but that doesn’t mean he or the Lakers expect to get a free path to the basket from other Clipper big men like Mikki Moore and Chris Wilcox.
“We still have to go in there and win a game,” Odom said.
Clipper guard Kerry Kittles remained noncommittal about his availability tonight. Though expected to play, he was listed as questionable, as was backup center Zeljko Rebraca. Marko Jaric is expected to play. He returned to practice after sitting out for two days because of a sore back.
The Lakers have yet to show the consistency they expect to have later in the season. But lately small forward Brian Cook, who has played in all 18 games, has been providing steady, solid production off the bench.
The second-year forward, who was injured most of last season, is averaging nine points in 19.6 minutes. He has scored in double figures in five of his last six games. What has opened eyes is his three-point stroke. Cook has made the third-most three-point shots (23) behind Chucky Atkins (38) and Kobe Bryant (31), and his 40.4% shooting is fourth-best on the team.
“I don’t think anybody expected him to shoot the ball as well as he’s been shooting it,” Bryant said. “He’s almost like a specialist now. It’s not like he’s on a hot streak; that just the way he shoots.”
The Clippers changed the starting time of their Jan. 8 game against the Phoenix Suns from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Lakers at Clippers, 7:30, Channels 5 and 9
Site -- Staples Center.
Radio -- KLAC (570), XTRA (690/1150), KWKW (1330).
Records -- Lakers 10-8, Clippers 11-7.
Season series -- Lakers, 1-0.
Update -- Only twice in their 20 full seasons in Los Angeles have the Clippers finished ahead of the Lakers. In the 1991-92 season, they were 45-37, the Lakers 43-39. The next season, they were 41-41, the Lakers 39-43. Kobe Bryant has two consecutive triple-doubles.
Tickets -- (800) 462-2849.
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