LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Karl Malone, the NBA's Mr. Indestructible for
18-plus seasons, will find out Monday if he's sustained the first
serious injury of his brilliant career.
Malone, who ranks second on the league's career scoring list
behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, heard something pop as he injured his
right knee in the opening four minutes of the Los Angeles Lakers'
107-101 victory over Phoenix on Sunday night.
The Lakers called it a sprain and said X-rays revealed no
damage. An MRI examination will be performed Monday.
"I'm thinking positive -- sometimes you can't control certain
things," the 40-year-old Malone said. "This is a game where you
can get injured. We'll see tomorrow. I'm not used to getting hurt.
We're all human. I expect to bounce back from injuries. It's
Malone has played in 1,458 regular-season games while missing
only 11 -- six because of injury or illness and five due to
"It's an unfortunate situation, but he is going to get an MRI
tomorrow and we will just have to see what happens," teammate
Shaquille O'Neal said. "I know he's upset. I didn't see what
happened, but I'm sure he's upset."
Malone fell hard to the floor and grabbed his knee after being
fouled by Scott Williams. After a brief delay, Malone made one of
two free throws before leaving 10 seconds later and walking to the
Lakers' locker room.
"I distinctly heard something pop," Williams said. "I hope he
gets back on the floor real quick. Our feet got tangled, that's how
we lost our balance. I came down on top of him."
When told Williams felt bad, Malone said he realized it wasn't
the Phoenix player's fault, saying: "He didn't try to do it, I
After leaving the court, Malone tried running in the hallway
outside the Lakers' locker room.
"I shoot my free throws because I'm thinking I could come
back," he said. "I had to test. The running part, it wouldn't let
me do that. It was just wobbling.
"We'll see tomorrow. I'm not a doctor, but I did listen to
them. Hopefully, I'm living right. I think I'm living pretty
O'Neal had 18 points and 18 rebounds as the Lakers improved the
NBA's best record to 20-5.
O'Neal passed Walt Bellamy and moved into 22nd place on the
NBA's career scoring list with 20,945 points.
Stephon Marbury led Phoenix (10-18) with 31 points, 11 assists
and six rebounds. Shawn Marion had 23 points and 10 rebounds and
Joe Johnson scored 20 for the Suns, who have lost 11 of 14 games
and seven straight on the road.
The Lakers led 92-88 when seldom-used rookie Luke Walton made a
three-point play with 5:43 left, but two baskets by Marion made it
95-92 with 4:20 to play.
The Lakers went back up by seven before Bryant committed two
turnovers and the Suns drew within three.
Johnson missed a jumper that could have made it a one-point game
with about a minute left, and George dunked off an assist by Walton
to make it 104-99 with 43 seconds remaining.
O'Neal made a three-point play to cap a 7-2 run at the beginning
of the third quarter and give the Lakers a 68-50 lead.
But the Suns battled back, outscoring the Lakers 25-14 during
the rest of the period to make it 82-75.
The Lakers scored the last nine points of the second quarter for
a 61-48 halftime lead. They shot 6-of-7 from 3-point range in the
opening 24 minutes, including 3-of-3 by Russell.
The Lakers trailed 9-2 when Malone was injured, but led 33-30
after the opening period despite 13 points by Marbury.
The Lakers are 9-0 in regular-season games and 3-0 in the
playoffs against the Suns at Staples Center since the facility
opened in 1999. ... The Lakers have won 29 of their last 30
regular-season home games. ... The Suns are 2-5 since Frank Johnson
was fired as coach and succeeded by Mike D'Antoni and 2-8 since
forward Amare Stoudemire went on the injured list because of a
sprained left ankle. ... The Suns are the only Western Conference
team more than one game below .500. They have more wins than five
Eastern Conference teams and the same number as two others.