LOS ANGELES - Lakers coach Phil Jackson believes the $7,500 fine levied against Karl Malone for his flagrant foul in Game 2 of the Western Conference final was based on the 40-year-old star's reputation. Malone agreed, and said that was okay with him.
"I just think it's my reputation preceding myself," Malone said before the Lakers faced the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 3 on Tuesday night. The game was not complete at press time. See www.sptimes.com for results.
"You know what? I love it," he said, smiling.
Malone, the second-leading scorer in NBA history, delivered the foul on Darrick Martin with 2:31 remaining in the Timberwolves' 89-71 victory on Sunday night at Target Center that evened the best-of-seven series at 1.
Malone made it clear he did so as retaliation for a couple of hard screens on teammate Derek Fisher, who had some puffiness under his left eye as the result of a collision with Latrell Sprewell. Fisher was called for a foul on that play.
"It's your teammate out there," Malone said. "It's nothing malicious. That's just basketball, that's just how it is. It gets physical - you hit and you get hit."
In addition to being fined, Malone earned two flagrant-foul points for what was ruled a second-degree flagrant foul. If a player exceeds three points in the playoffs, he is suspended one game.
Also on Tuesday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he expects his scoring record to be broken, but he doesn't think Malone will be the one to do it.
Missing half this season with an injury was a setback for Malone's chances of breaking the mark of 38,387 points, Abdul-Jabbar said in an interview at the NBA Store in New York.
"At this time of his life, it's tougher at this end of it than it was at the beginning to overcome injury and come back and be into the flow of the game," said Abdul-Jabbar, who spent his 20-year career with the Bucks and Lakers.
The 40-year-old Malone has 36,928 points in his career, 1,459 behind the Hall of Fame center who won six NBA championships. Malone, who has said he might retire after the season, would have to score 18 a night without missing a game next season to eclipse Abdul-Jabbar.
PACERS: Ron Artest was fined $10,000 by the league for making an obscene gesture during Game 2 of the East final against Detroit. Artest made the gesture with 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Pacers' 72-67 loss Monday.
HOUSTON 68, CONNECTICUT 57: Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes each scored 17 and Michelle Snow played solid defense inside to lead the visiting Comets.
L.A. 95, WASHINGTON 79: Mwadi Mabika and DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 20 each for the visiting Sparks. Mabika scored six points in a 14-4 run to open the second half, putting the Sparks in control.