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Game 1 was painful for dunking Malone

SHARE Game 1 was painful for dunking Malone

Karl Malone proved to be a real pain, to himself and the Chicago Bulls Sunday, when he threw down a hammer dunk with 7:38 remaining in the third quarter of Game 1.

The slam not only gave Utah a 48-45 lead at the time, it also may have benefited Chicago. Malone's floor-burned right palm, an injury suffered in the opening game of the Western Conference Finals, hit the rim with all the force of a Mailman's special delivery."It was healing fine until he went for that dunk," confirmed Jazz trainer Mike Shimensky. "He reaggravated it."

The injury, located at the base of his right thumb, did not sideline Malone against the Rockets and it will not keep him from playing against the Bulls.

"When I suit up I'm ready to play and I don't have any excuses at all," he told the media with his hand bandaged. "You play through a lot of things. Besides that it's the NBA Finals. What am I supposed to do about it?"

The reaggravated injury, however, has raised questions about Malone's ability to shoot the ball - especially from the free-throw line with 9.2 seconds remaining.

Malone, a self-proclaimed "no excuses" guy, said no. Those who patrolled the paint with him throughout the game Sunday agreed.

"I don't think it affected him at all," said Jazz center Greg Ostertag. "He played the whole Houston series with it."

Chicago center Luc Longley said: "I haven't noticed anything. He missed some shots, but I didn't notice him favoring it or anything like that at all."

No sign of an excuse either.

RADIO DAZE: Chicago radio host Jonathon Brandmeier of sports station WMVP awoke several members of the Utah Jazz at their hotel the morning after Game 1. The taunting 7 a.m. telephone calls reached Greg Ostertag, John Stockton, Antoine Carr and Bryon Russell.

"I was too asleep to know what was going on," said Ostertag, who fired back with a less than "good morning greeting" to the caller. "I played around with them for a few minutes and then hung up."

All telephone calls to Jazz players are now being blocked and team officials are looking into the security matter.

"Hopefully no more will get through," said Ostertag. "That was bull."

David Locke, sports director for the flagship station (KFAN, 1320 AM) of the Utah Jazz, said the Chicago crew went too far.

"It was ridiculous and absurd," said Locke. "To do it just to be a nuisance was embarrassing and unprofessional."

CONVERSATION WITH THE COACH: Asked if he had talked with former Bulls backcourtmate Norm Van Lier since he had been in Chicago, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said "Yes, I saw him the other night," and very little else.

Media: "What did he say to you?"

Sloan: "Hello."

Media: "Was he happy for you?"

Sloan: "He seemed to be."

Sloan eventually broke down, albeit slightly, and said he and Van Lier have maintained a great friendship.

GOOD NEWS, PARK CITY: While delighting several members of the media with his thoughts on how the Great Salt Lake smells, Brian Williams said he found a way to pass the time when the series shifts to Utah.

"I got a few videos from Gene Siskel," said Williams. "I might just stay in my room and watch them."