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As Rookie, Malone Shot 48% From Line


SALT LAKE CITY — As if the run at the end of the regular season didn't offer enough encouragement for Shaquille O'Neal and his well-documented free throw woes, he can look at the strides of Karl Malone.

Problems at the line were equally glaring for the Jazz superstar when his pro career started in 1985-86, the rookie season of 48.1%. But Malone made significant improvements from there, going to 59.8% the next campaign and then breaking 70% in nine of the 10 years since.

That makes what happened Saturday at the Forum all the more remarkable. The players who once couldn't make half his shots set an NBA postseason record by making 18 without a miss.

"Most hard working people, if they spend time on something they're going to get better," O'Neal said. "And I know I'm going to get better."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday May 14, 1997 Home Edition Sports Part C Page 5 Sports Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
Laker photographs--Times photographer Gina Ferazzi shot the Laker-Jazz photos that appeared, miscredited, on the inside pages of Tuesday's sports section.


Rick Majerus is the coach at the University of Utah. He lives in Salt Lake City. He's working for the local CBS affiliate during the playoffs, offering analysis.

And he's been rooting for the Lakers.

"Because of Del," Majerus said.

Because he and Laker Coach Del Harris are good friends, going back 14 years to when they were on Don Nelson's staff together with the Milwaukee Bucks.

"Del is No. 1," Majerus said. "Del really has been like the older brother I never had. I'm not just saying this."


Tales From the Outer Limits:

A local Salt Lake City newspaper printed a joke on the front page of its sports section that compared the sound of a missed free throw by Shaquille O'Neal at the Forum to the sound of a drive-by shooting.

Officials have ordered that Jazz playoff placards be removed from the front windows of city busses. The reason? Citizens were so enamored with the signs that they were forgetting to look for the bus numbers and missing their rides.

Times staff writer Bill Plaschke contributed to this story.

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