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LAKERS NOTEBOOK: LAKERS HAVE THEIR PREFERENCES.

Byline: Jill Painter Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO - No disrespect to his home state but Devean George would rather play Sacramento in the Western Conference finals.

If Derek Fisher had his druthers, he wouldn't mind another series with the cowbell-clanging neighbors from the north. Karl Malone doesn't care if it's Minnesota or Sacramento.

Either way, the Lakers have to wait until after Wednesday night's game to start thinking about matchups with Kevin Garnett or Mike Bibby.

``I'd rather play the team we have home-court advantage against,'' George said. ``... If you can avoid having to steal a game on the other team's floor every series, that would be better.''

George is from Minnesota but would rather avoid that road trip because the Wolves would have home-court advantage.

The Lakers faced an 0-2 deficit after opening losses in San Antonio but then won four in a row. If the Kings win, the Lakers have home court. The series is expected to start Friday.

``I think it would be a lot of fun to play the Kings again,'' Fisher said.

``Both teams, due to different circumstances, got knocked out last year and didn't get to face each other. It would be fun to reacquaint ourselves with them.''

Sacramento and Minnesota each beat the Lakers in three of four games this season.

--Also: Coach Phil Jackson said he would start working on similarities that Minnesota and Sacramento share in practice Wednesday. ... Starting at 10 a.m. Thursday, Lakers fans can purchase tickets to watch road games in the conference finals on the big screen at Staples Center. ... Lakers assistant General Manager Ronnie Lester was elected to the Dunbar High of Chicago Hall of Fame.

Jill Painter, (818) 713-3615

jill.painter(at)dailynews.com
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 18, 2004
Words:288
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