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NBA FINALS / LAKERS VS DETROIT / SERIES REPORT | LAKER
NOTES

Malone Won't Be Charged

June 15, 2004|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Karl Malone will not face a criminal charge after allegedly poking a fan's face on the Palace court before Game 3, according to Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca.

Among Gorcyca's findings, Malone's offense was minimal, and complainant Happy Asker was in the arena illegally after buying his ticket from a scalper.

Also, according to Auburn Hills Police Lt. Jim Manning, Asker, 28, had violated a trespassing ordinance when he approached Malone on the court.

Asker, of Southfield, Mich., and his brother, Diah, 31, of San Diego, were ejected from the Palace before Thursday night's game.

Happy Asker indicated to police that he intended to get a refund on his ticket rather than follow through with his complaint.

Malone said Happy Asker had spit on him during the exchange.

*

In a hallway between interviews Monday, Malone leaned against a wall and straightened his right leg, wincing.

His right knee, injured in December and damaged again in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, has all but wrecked his season in Los Angeles, and perhaps has wrecked his teammates' seasons as well.

Their leader, Malone has had less impact since he limped from the court June 6 and returned with a brace.

The Lakers have struggled since, on offense and defense, and Malone has spent more time treating his knee than treating the strained psyches and clumsy games around him.

"I realize what it is," Malone said. "You want to focus all your energy on helping the guys, talking to guys. But, I'm trying to get up and down the floor.... They draw a lot off me, off my energy. That's what I see."

*

Of the four Lakers who can become free agents after the season, Malone and Gary Payton must notify the Lakers of their decisions before next week's expansion draft. Kobe Bryant's deadline is June 30, and Derek Fisher's is a day or two before that.

If Malone and Payton consent to stay another season, club sources expect General Manager Mitch Kupchak to protect them in the expansion draft, for what they can still do on the floor and out of respect for what they have done in their careers.

*

In the NBA Finals, 27 teams have taken leads of three games to one. All of them have become champions.... Since making six three-point baskets in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against Minnesota, Kareem Rush, in four games, has made three three-pointers.

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