You couldn't exactly say that Laker fans are crying in their drinks after what Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz did to them, but only because they found another use for them. As Malone walked off the Forum floor Saturday with a huge Jazz victory in hand, a fan dumped a drink on his head from the stands and ran for the exit.

"I'm not allowed to go up there," said Malone, regretfully.If Malone forgot an umbrella, it was one of the few things he didn't bring to Saturday's game. What he did bring was grit, persistence, determination and, yes, even the jump shot he left back at the hotel for Game 3. Not until after the game, when Malone soaked his knees and feet in ice water, did he cool off.

"I didn't come out thinking I'm going to make a statement," said Malone.

But he did anyway. That statement is: Malone is back. This was Karl's Big Day, and welcome it was for a man who was still reeling from the worst game of his career two days earlier and who had yet to have a great game in the playoffs. Malone totaled 42 points - 26 in the second half - and nine rebounds, leading the way to a 110-95 victory over the Lakers and a 3-1 series lead heading back to Utah for Game 5.

Malone was at his best in the fourth quarter, when, during one stretch, he scored 12 of his team's 14 points, many of them with his old standby turn-and-fade jump shot, which was discovered in Lost and Found. The Lakers tried fouling Malone, but that didn't work either. He made 18 of 18 free throws - an NBA playoff record.

In short, the Lakers' hands were tied. They like to double-team Malone off the small forward, but that didn't work because small forward Bryon Russell is not to be mistaken for David Benoit. Russell, left open on the perimeter, had 29 points.

"They did that (double-team) with David Benoit," said Malone. "But Bryon doesn't sit out there and keep casting away. He'll drive if he's not hitting from outside."

For Malone and Russell, as well as their teammates, Game 4 was a welcome finish to the longest 36 hours of their careers. On Thursday night, the Jazz shot like Junior Jazz in a 20-point loss to the Lakers, and nobody was worse than Malone (2 of 20) and Russell (2 of 11).

"If I had stayed in the game, I would have caught you," Russell told Malone.

The Jazz used dark humor to deal with disappointment. Stockton told Malone, "You know what, Karl? You really (stunk) tonight.' " Malone said, "You know, Stock, you did, too."

For a day and a half, Malone and Russell were in a funk. "I haven't seen Bryon without a smile on his face very often, but he had these big sad puppy-dog eyes," said Malone. "I think he ordered everything there was on the room-service menu."

Malone was in an ornery mood when he called home to talk to his family, but that melted away. He found perspective on the other end of the phone line. "I shot 2 for 20," he told his wife. What's 2 for 20, she asked? He told one of his daughters, "Tell Daddy something really good. I had a terrible game." What game, she asked?

On Friday, the day before the rematch, Malone decided he needed to do something extraordinary - such as leave the hotel. During his 12-year career, he has ventured from the team hotel a half-dozen times.

"I needed to do something different," he explained. "I didn't want to sit in my room moping. That would only compound it."

Malone, Russell, Shandon Anderson and Chris Morris decided to go for a walk along Venice Beach, which was a couple of blocks from the hotel. They didn't get far before one of them suggested they rent bikes instead. They charged it to rookie Anderson's credit card and rode several miles along the beach.

"You never go on bike rides," his wife said when Malone reported his day's adventure.

"People say Karl Malone is doing the same things all the time," he shrugged. "I wanted to do something different."

Still depressed about his performance, Malone might have had trouble sleeping at night, but he plugged in his secret weapon: a "rain machine," which imitates the sound of falling rain. "It's always raining in my room," he says. "My favorite places are Seattle, Portland and Alaska. I like rain."

That notwithstanding, he didn't get off to a good start Saturday morning. A picky eater, the waiter forgot his ham, the waffles were cold, the butter wasn't melted. He picked at it, gave up, went to his room, called his wife, ate a couple of candy bars and left for the game.

And then promptly picked up where he left off Thursday. He made just three of his first 10 shots and those were dunks or dinks. His jump shot was still missing. Malone kept shooting, and near the end of the half he made a fade-away jump shot - his first in days. The drought was over. He hit them at will, it seemed, and when the Lakers closed to within eight points late in the fourth quarter, he hit shots from 18 and 20 feet.

"As the game went on, I was coming around," he said.

Malone had just one request after the game: Hold the compliments, please. "I don't want anyone patting me on the back," he said. "Wait till after the other game."

He sent the Laker crowd and the Famous Forum Family - see Jack, Denzel, Magic, Dyan - home to cry. Or to throw them, whatever.

"OK, Utah, we'll see you Wednesday," Dyan Cannon said as she strolled past the Jazz locker room.

The Jazz hope she's wrong.