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Although the Lakers hope to have Shaquille O'Neal in the lineup by Wednesday or Friday, they are beginning to consider the likelihood of two or three more weeks of rehabilitation for Karl Malone.

Malone, who sprained his knee Dec. 21, missed his ninth consecutive game Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers and his 10th this season. In 18 previous seasons, all with the Utah Jazz, Malone missed 10 games.

Malone sought and received a second opinion on his injury recently and said he came away convinced that the recovery time should be measured in weeks, not days. In that scenario, Malone probably would not be ready to play when the Lakers play at Utah on Jan. 24, a game notable for his return to his original team's city.

O'Neal said he is "close" to recovering from his strained calf. Asked if that meant he'd play as soon as Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets or, perhaps, Friday against the Sacramento Kings, he said, "Hopefully both."

He said he is about 65% healed, "65-point-292," he said, and wanted to be at 80% before he played. Also, after years of swearing off anti-inflammatory medication, he said he is on it again. "Just keeps calling me," he said, grinning.

Horace Grant said he would leave the team Thursday morning and "probably" miss the game against the Kings, and perhaps Saturday's against the Clippers, to be with his ailing father, Harvey, who is home in Sparta, Ga.

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Administrator 12/02--7/07
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Wow. The Mailman's back must be racked pretty badly if even he (a man understandably proud of his ironman reputation) agrees that he needs two to three more weeks off.

It makes me wonder if this is the triggerpoint of his decline where age has finally caught up to him and when he does come back his game will be noticibly changed.

I hope not, but this is what goes through my mind as reports of one or two games becomes reports of one or two weeks that becomes reports or two or three more weeks for a back injury to one of the oldest players in the league.
 

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What back injury? I thought it was his knee... :D


You must be confusing him with me. I have the bad back (currently hobbling around the office like that old Tim Conway character), not Karl.
 
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