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Mihm Feels Close, Aims for Sunday

Times Staff Writer

The Lakers can’t quite make playoff plans yet. Neither can Chris Mihm.

The Laker center has missed the last 15 games because of a severely sprained right ankle, although he is getting closer to returning to the court.

Mihm still feels pain in the ankle, and it will continue to bother him when he returns, which he hopes will be Sunday against the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers’ next-to-last game of the regular season.

Mihm has been out since coming down on the foot of Seattle SuperSonic forward Rashard Lewis with 48.4 seconds left in a March 12 Laker loss.

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“Every time I plant or change direction, it’s pretty painful,” he said Tuesday. “Even when I come back, it’s going to be something I’ll be rehabbing after the season.”

The Lakers are hoping to see enough from Mihm to include him on the playoff roster, assuming they make it that far.

“We’re concerned about it, obviously,” Laker Coach Phil Jackson said. “It’s going to be a decision obviously that’s going to weigh in. He’s not going to be 100% by the time the season’s over. We’re just going to have to project where he can be.”

The Lakers end the regular season April 19 against New Orleans. They would have until April 20 to file their playoff roster with the league office if they make the playoffs. Their first game would be April 22 or 23.

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Jackson didn’t think the league went far enough Tuesday in announcing that teams could carry 13 players on their playoff roster instead of the traditional 12.

Teams are required to deactivate one player before each game.

“I don’t see why they don’t have the 15,” he said. “I don’t understand why you have 15 all season long and in the playoffs you have 13. That doesn’t make any sense. If you’re going to have a rule for the regular season, you might as well have it for the playoffs.”

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Rookie guard Von Wafer was sent back to the Fort Worth Flyers of the Development League. He averaged eight points in 17.9 minutes in a previous eight-game assignment with the Flyers, who begin their playoffs Saturday.

“We wanted to make sure he’d get a little chance to play down there, and they wanted him,” Jackson said.

In 16 games with the Lakers this season, Wafer averaged 1.3 points in 4.6 minutes. He would probably return to the Lakers if they made the playoffs, although he probably would not be on their active roster.

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