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Lakers rebound with Lynch


INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- North Carolina forward George Lync wasn't the player the Los Angeles Lakers hoped would be available when they picked 12th in the first round of yesterday's NBA draft.

They would have preferred it if Lindsey Hunter, Vin Baker or Allan Houston were left on the board.

But as coach Randy Pfund quipped afterward, "We didn't get a chance to take Chris Webber, either."

So with the aforementioned players already taken by other clubs, the Lakers wound up with Lynch, a 6-foot-8, 223-pound forward who bolsters a thin forward corps and helps the club in a much-needed area -- rebounding.

"He's kind of like an A.C. Green," general manager Jerry West said of Lynch, who is second only to Sam Perkins on North Carolina's all-time rebounding list.

"He's very active. Very aggressive," West continued. "He's not quite as tall as A.C., but he's a player who's just gotten better every year. We won't have any harder worker on this team than him. Every loose ball, he's going to be after it."

If West was disappointed that Hunter, Baker and Houston were unavailable, he was pleasantly surprised -- shocked, even -- later on when he took Cincinnati point guard Nick Van Exel in the second round at No. 37.

Van Exel was one of about a dozen prospects the Lakers worked out this month and had considered taking with the 12th pick.

"Absolutely not," West said when asked if he thought Van Exel would still be on the board. "I thought he would be a first-rounder, somewhere in the teens to low 20s area."

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