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Saturday, June 05, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

NBA
Notebook: Lakers' Malone, Fisher return to practice

By The Associated Press

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Karl Malone and Derek Fisher returned to practice with the Los Angeles Lakers yesterday after sitting out the previous two days with sore right knees.

Both said they felt much better and expect no problems tomorrow when the Lakers and Detroit Pistons meet in Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles.

"Today was a good day for me," Malone said after practice. "I wore a sleeve and got up and down."

Malone tore a ligament in his right knee Dec. 21, causing him to miss 40 games. He said this injury had nothing to do with the previous one.

Malone was injured in Game 2 of the conference finals, but continued to play.

Fisher was injured in Game 5 last Saturday, but played 27 minutes in Game 6. He also wore a sleeve on his sore knee yesterday.

"It's doing good, it's responding well," he said of his knee. "When I treat it and ice it, it feels good right then. My timing is definitely off. (But) I feel like I'll be ready Sunday."

Let the games begin

Pistons coach Larry Brown and Phil Jackson, his Lakers counterpart, are known for dropping not-so-subtle messages to the officials during the playoffs.
 
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Brown may have been the first to do so when asked about using Elden Campbell more than usual to guard the bigger Shaquille O'Neal.

"You've got to play a lot of people against them, especially big people," Brown said. "But if four is the limit of fouls on them, I hope it's the limit on fouls on us."

When asked to clarify what he meant, Brown declined to elaborate.

Jackson hasn't said much about the officiating in the days leading up to the finals, but that could change at any time.

Notes

• The judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual-assault case warned prosecutors they may face sanctions for not following a court order to include a defense witness at any testing of DNA evidence.

In a court filing, Judge Terry Ruckriegle gave prosecutors until Tuesday to explain why they did not comply with an order issued after months of legal wrangling.

Legal experts say sanctions could include contempt of court, or at worse, prevent the introduction of some evidence.

• Lakers F Rick Fox wasn't able to go through a full practice because of soreness in his neck and shoulder area he said was nerve-related and similar to a football injury known as a stinger. "It won't go away," Fox said, adding he'll be available for Game 1.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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