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Injuries a Concern to Jackson

June 08, 2004|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

In his first game since having his knee drained early in the week, Karl Malone made two shots in 44 minutes of Game 1 of the NBA Finals and iced almost until they turned the lights out in the locker room Sunday night.

In two games since twisting his knee in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, Derek Fisher has made two of 16 shots. In 16 postseason games before then, he had made 45.7% of his attempts from the floor, 44.4% from the three-point arc.

On Monday, they insisted they were sturdy enough to go on, though for the first time Coach Phil Jackson suggested their injuries were hurting the Lakers and that he might be forced to cut back their playing time.

"It would be silly of me to deny that they are both hurting a little bit," he said, "and what they are trying to do, they are not at peak position with those injuries to them. But they both want to play through it and we are just going to have to make a determination as to what level they can do that at. If their injuries hamper their capabilities, we are going to have to have other people out there on the floor. That's unfortunate for us, but that's the way it is."

Malone waved off questions about the torn right knee ligament he suffered in December and its lingering effects on his game.

"I'm not going that route," he said.

Fisher, one of the few pure shooters on the team, said his shot is off because the entire offense has fouled. Asked if his sore right knee has limited the lift on his jumper, Fisher said, "Not at all."

"Last night, we didn't get good shots," he said. "Nobody shot a good percentage but Shaq [O'Neal]."


Gary Payton was fined $5,000 by the NBA for failing to make himself available to the media Monday afternoon.

Payton, who often doesn't stop once he starts, left without talking to reporters after Game 1, in which he had three points and five fouls in 31 minutes. Then, despite requests by the Lakers and the league, he left after Monday's practice while his teammates explained Sunday's loss.

"Well, I'm sure, knowing Gary, he's so competitive, that he's got a game he just would like to forget about," Jackson said. "Everything he did seemed like a foul or he had turnovers ... and situations like that will happen to a player some nights."

Of course, with Payton, it could always be about something more.

"I think in some ways we have to respect the fact that Gary's not necessarily pleased with what's going on right now," Fisher said. "I don't think it's just about him, though. It's about where we are as a team. Gary's always been very open with the media, when our team is doing what it's supposed to do. The only time I've noticed there's been a problem is when we're not playing well as a team. It's never just about him."


General Manager Mitch Kupchak will miss Games 2 and 3 to attend a pre-draft camp in Chicago. He and his scouts plan to drive the five hours from Chicago to Detroit in time, they hope, for Game 4 on Sunday.


Ever streaky, Kareem Rush has missed four consecutive shots since making six consecutive three-pointers in Game 6 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With Kobe Bryant misfiring on his jump shots, Fisher missing his and Bryon Russell having been forgotten, the Lakers were running out of perimeter shooters when they went to Rush in Game 1 and he missed three times.

Rush said he'd lost the rhythm of playing every other day. By Game 1 of the Finals, the Lakers hadn't played in nearly six days.

"The games were coming so fast, I had a chance to keep my stroke going," he said.

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