'He will play'
Anderson hopes to give Spurs a boost in Game 3
Updated: Thursday May 24, 2001 9:47 PM
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Derek Anderson, who knows this area well, responded without hesitation when asked what it would take to keep him on the sidelines Friday night.
"An earthquake," he said with a smile.
Anderson's return should give the San Antonio Spurs a boost as they attempt to do the improbable -- rally from an 0-2 deficit in the Western Conference finals against the streaking Los Angeles Lakers.
"If I don't feel any soreness, I expect to play," said Anderson, sidelined since separating his right shoulder May 5 on a flagrant foul by Juwan Howard of the Dallas Mavericks. "I feel great, I feel 100 percent right now. I don't have any pain, I don't have any swelling."
Anderson spoke Thursday before the Spurs practiced at Staples Center. Afterward, team spokesman Tom James said the 6-foot-5, 195-pounder will definitely play Friday night.
"He had a great practice yesterday, and a great practice today, he will play," James said.
He also gives the Spurs their best defender against Kobe Bryant, who scored 73 points as the Lakers won the first two games of the best-of-seven series at the Alamodome.
Anderson said he'd like to start Game 3 -- "continue where I left off" -- but acknowledged it wasn't his decision.
"I don't know, we haven't decided yet," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before practice.
Asked how much he hoped to play, Anderson replied: "If I'm not playing a good amount of minutes, at least half the game, I shouldn't play."
The Lakers realize the value of Anderson, who can play off-guard and small forward.
"With Derek, they obviously have another bonus to their offense, a creator," Bryant said.
"You can see it in the interviews, you can hear it in the voices," Lakers forward Rick Fox said when asked about the boost a return by Anderson gives the Spurs. "He's one of their key perimeter players. They have to feel a lot better about their chances."
Even with Anderson, the Spurs' chances aren't good.
First, they're faced with the task of winning four of five games against the defending NBA champion Lakers, who have won 17 straight, the last nine in the playoffs.
The next two games are at Staples Center, where the Lakers are 35-10 this season including four wins in the playoffs.
In addition, only two NBA teams have rallied to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first two at home.
Nevertheless, the Spurs seemed upbeat.
"We know the situation ahead of us," said Duncan, who has 68 points and 29 rebounds in the series. "We have to come in and get the first one and get back in the series. I guess this is a super must-win.
"They won two at our place, and we're pretty confident about coming in here and getting two."
It's likely the only way that could happen is if David Robinson contributes much more. Duncan and Robinson provide the Spurs with a pair of 7-foot stars, but only Duncan performed to expectations in San Antonio, and Robinson knows it.
"I've got to stay out on the floor and add some stuff on the scoreboard," said Robinson, who shot only 9-of-25 and was plagued by foul trouble in the first two games of the series. "I've just got to be a lot smarter."
About being blamed for his team's losses, Robinson replied: "I understand. You get paid a lot of money. I think I'm harder on myself than any of y'all."
The Lakers expect to see a more aggressive Robinson.
"I hope we get the same David Robinson, I cannot tell a lie," Fox said. "I don't expect that to be the case. I hope he doesn't relieve the pressure on Tim Duncan."
Robinson played only 27 minutes in Game 2 after picking up his third and fourth fouls in quick succession early in the third quarter. He got No. 4 while arguing with an official about No. 3.
"He's a winner, he's been an MVP in the league, he's won a scoring title, he's got pride," Lakers forward Robert Horry said. "He's going to do the things he thinks he needs to do to help his team win."
The Lakers haven't played at home since beating Sacramento 96-90 in Game 2 of the second round on May 8. Since then, they won two games each at Sacramento and San Antonio -- both 33-8 at home during the regular season.
"We don't want to lose at home," Bryant said. "We have a golden opportunity to do something big here, go up 3-0."
If that happens, the Spurs are all but dead, considering no team has ever rallied from that deficit.