It was the pop that scared Samaki Walker.
When he yanked free from the Portland Trail Blazers' Shawn Kemp on Sunday after the two had locked arms at Portland's Rose Garden, Walker heard something pop in his elbow.
So he was relieved to learn that an MRI taken Monday revealed nothing more serious than a hyperextension.
Even the news that he had been put on the injured list, exchanging places with Shaquille O'Neal, didn't quiet Walker's sigh of relief.
"When I heard that pop, that was something I had never experienced before," Walker said. "I thought the worst. So I think I got off easy."
Required to spend at least five games on the injured list, Walker can't return before the finale of the Lakers' coming trip, a Feb. 27th game against Minnesota. Walker's recovery period is estimated at five to seven days.
"When something like this happens, it's frustrating," said Walker, who is averaging seven points.
But, he grudgingly admitted, the injury might also provide a welcome respite from the heavy workload he has been forced to assume in O'Neal's absence.
"If there's a positive to this," Walker said, "that's it."
But he's not looking for an extended vacation.
"Once I am able to straighten it out," said Walker of his elbow, "I'll be able to tape it up and go."
Even if Walker had not been injured, he would have been missing from the starting lineup for the first time this season on Tuesday night.
Coach Phil Jackson was already planning on starting Robert Horry at power forward because he feels Horry is a better matchup against Boston Celtic power forward Antoine Walker.