Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/7

Game 1: Sunday, December 7th
Game 2: Saturday, January 24th
Game 3: Monday, March 8th
Game 4: Sunday, March 28th

Lakers 83

(41-22, 17-17 away)

Jazz 88


Coverage: KJZZ

7:00 PM ET, March 8, 2004

EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

1 2 3 4 T
LAL 22 16 17 2883
UTAH 14 25 18 3188

Top Performers

Los Angeles: G. Payton 21 Pts, 6 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl

Utah: A. Kirilenko 15 Pts, 14 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 5 Blk

Lakers self-destruct after O'Neal ejection

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- No Kobe, no Karl and, in the end, no Shaq meant no luck for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Karl Malone's return to Utah for the first time as an opponent was spoiled when the Jazz beat the Lakers 88-83 on Monday night.

The game will be remembered as much for Malone's homecoming to Utah, where he played his first 18 seasons, as Shaquille O'Neal's two quick technical fouls that got him ejected in the fourth quarter and started a rally by the Jazz for the victory.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson tried to refrain from commenting, but then accused referee Bob Delaney of being prejudiced against O'Neal.

"We just felt it wasn't fair-square," Jackson said. "It felt like we were going against eight people instead of five."

The Lakers may have felt that outnumbered when the game ended. Malone is still on the injured list with a bad knee and was joined on the Lakers bench by Kobe Bryant (shoulder) and Horace Grant (hip flexor). Forward Stanislav Medvedenko (respiratory infection) wasn't even with the team.

Gary Payton had 21 points to lead Los Angeles and O'Neal had 16 points and 10 rebounds, but the Lakers never recovered after losing Shaq in the middle.

"I think, first of all, you have to have a little luck, because obviously when O'Neal went out of the ballgame that sort of turned things around," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "You know we need to get a win any way we can against anyone we play. It's important for us to keep hanging in there and see if we can stay alive in this playoff race."

The Jazz got back to .500 at 32-32 and are within a game of Denver for the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference. Utah also finally got its first home game against Malone as a member of the Lakers out of the way, even if he didn't play.

Malone, not mentioned over the public address system during the game, received both cheers and jeers in his first game as a visitor in the Delta Center. But in the end most of the sellout crowd of 19,911 was celebrating the Jazz's first victory over the Lakers since December 2002.

The Lakers led 70-68 and O'Neal scooped up a loose ball and shook the rim on a one-handed dunk with 3:57 remaining. But he came down with an elbow on Andrei Kirilenko and was immediately tossed by Delaney.

O'Neal received a technical earlier in the quarter for taunting after a dunk.

"Bob Delaney's known to be very prejudiced against Shaquille. We know that, so we wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't a good call," Jackson said. "But I'm not going to make a comment on that right now."

Kirilenko had 15 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks and the Jazz reserves outscored the Lakers' 64-25. Raul Lopez scored 17 and had five assists, and Raja Bell scored 13 and Gordan Giricek led the team with his 21 points.

The Lakers play the Jazz again March 28, and Malone is expected to be back by then. But the game is in Los Angeles, and probably won't have the same frenzied atmosphere of Malone coming back to Utah. Jazz owner Larry Miller rekindled a lengthy feud last week by criticizing Malone's outrage over a Jazz skit that poked fun at Malone and Bryant in the Lakers' last visit to Utah.

Malone spoke to some of his former teammates and coaches after the game but did not take questions from reporters. He said before the game that the Jan. 24 skit is old news.

"I love my new life. That's what I'm saying. That's why I don't know what all the fuss is about," he said after the morning shootaround. "I'm happy. The Jazz are happy. They're winning. I keep up with them. Why can't both sides be happy and get along?"

Game notes

The Lakers were without forward Stanislav Medvedenko (respiratory infection), Kobe Bryant (shoulder) and Horace Grant (hip flexor) in addition to Malone, who is not on the active roster. ... Giricek was back for Utah after missing two games to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter. ... The loudest cheer of the night before O'Neal's ejection was when he was called for throwing an elbow while going for an offensive rebound with 10.6 seconds left in the first quarter.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 83 88
FGM-FGA 29-72 (.403) 29-74 (.392)
3PM-3PA 4-11 (.364) 1-8 (.125)
FTM-FTA 21-31 (.677) 29-34 (.853)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-35 11-43
Assists 17 18
Turnovers 19 18
Steals 5 11
Blocks 5 9
Fast Break Points 1 6
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (3/0) 29 (2/0)

Top Performers

Los Angeles
Gary Payton Payton
Points: 21
Reb: 6
Ast: 7
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Andrei Kirilenko Kirilenko
Points: 15
Reb: 14
Ast: 2
Stl: 1
Blk: 5