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Kareem Rush Interview ( (2-2-04).

With all the attention paid to the Big Four this season, most basketball fans couldn’t even name three guys on the Lakers second unit. But you and the rest of the supporting cast have relatively held your own since the injuries to the stars started to mount.

Kareem Rush: Our talents were hidden because we're behind so many great players. We didn't get a chance to showcase our abilities, but now it's out in the open and we're still learning to play with each other. So it will take some time, but as long as we keep working, we'll be fine.

How has getting more minutes helped your confidence?

KR: With those guys out, we've had a chance to step in and play some heavy minutes. And hopefully in crunch time -- even though we don't play heavy minutes all the time -- we can step in there and be able to contribute. And that's what we're going to do.

The coaching staff takes pride in the development of its young players. I know you have worked extensively with assistant coach Jim Cleamons. What has he taught you?

KR: It's just about being a professional. Using my athletic ability to help further my play. Not just shooting the ball, but playing defense and trying to become an all-around better player. I love him. He does a great job with us young guys. He's a blessing.

With Kobe missing games, you’ve gotten the opportunity to start this season for the first time in your NBA career. When you are in that role and you know the team is depending on your points, do you go into the game with a goal in mind?

KR: No, not at all. I'll take if they are there. If they're not, I'm not going to force anything. I don't have that luxury to force shots yet. I just go out there and take the open ones. Try to create when I can and just be aggressive.

Kareem Rush:
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