Work in Sports
Lakers' Team Report
Rice fires volley coach's way over lack of playing time
Posted: Monday June 12, 2000 07:44 PM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Los Angeles Lakers didn't really need this right now. But then, they wouldn't be the Los Angeles Lakers without a little extra-curricular activity, would they?
On an off day in an NBA Finals that the favored Lakers still lead 2 games to 1, L.A. shooting forward Glen Rice sparred with his coach over his lack of playing time, using hundreds of media members as go-betweens.
As of early Tuesday afternoon, the day after Rice was held to seven points and played only one minute in the fourth quarter of a 100-91 L.A. loss, Rice had not talked to coach Phil Jackson about it. Jackson hadn't approached Rice either.
And the whole mess threatened to throw the Lakers into a locker room tizzy as they roll into a critical Game 4 Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers.
"By no means ... do I want it to be said that I'm trying to be the bad apple in the bunch. That's not the case," Rice said to a handful of reporters surrounding a podium at Conseco Fieldhouse. "I'm willing to do whatever I can to get this team a victory. I can't do it if I'm sitting on the bench."
Rice was expected to play a key role in Game 3 with the injury to Lakers' star Kobe Bryant. He took three shots in the first quarter and scored two points, then scored five points in only four minutes of play in the second quarter, including a clutch 3-pointer with less than a second to play.
But Rice, once the main scorer for the Charlotte Hornets who now is relegated to No. 3 in L.A. behind Shaquille O'Neal and Bryant, struggled in the third. He played nine minutes and missed both his shots. He was considered a liability on the defensive end, too.
Indiana's Jalen Rose, the man Rice was guarding much of the night, scored 21 points.
"Glen had a real struggle that third quarter, and as we lost our [momentum] I just went to Rick Fox because we needed some defense," Jackson said. "With that group out there on the floor, we got back in the game. So you stay with who plays ..."
Rice, when asked about the fact he may have been benched because of poor defense, acted as if the subject had been broached before.
"To say that Jalen scored all but two points on me," Rice said, "that's bull----."
Rice said he had no plans to talk to Jackson about his role -- "It's been done before," he said -- and vowed to be even more aggressive in getting his shots in Game 4.
We'll have to wait until Wednesday night to see whether this latest Lakers tempest amounts to anything. One thing is certain, though.
With the Lakers, it's always something.
Strategy of the Day
Indiana's Reggie Miller, after terrible outings in the first two games, came out with 33 points in Game 3. As always, one of the Lakers' main jobs is to hold him down.
The Lakers have been trying to play him super-aggressively, getting so close to him that Miller has to use his quickness to get to the basket instead of relying on his jump shot. Miller uncharacteristically drove to the rim on several occasions, though he often failed to finish the job.
The Lakers want to continue fighting through screens -- and switching off on Miller when necessary -- just to keep him from getting into an offensive rhythm.
Quote of the Day
Guard Brian Shaw, on the Rice-Jackson controversy: "This isn't the first time he's been frustrated. Sometimes Phil does certain things to motivate guys to do what he wants them to do. This may be another one of his tactics."