Malone is oldest to notch feat

Updated: November 29, 2003, 5:35 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Karl Malone gave the Los Angeles Lakers the physical presence they expected.

In the Lakers' most significant game so far this season, he gave them something they didn't expect: a triple-double.

And he accomplished the feat despite playing only 26 minutes.

Malone became the first NBA player to get a triple-double at age 40, leading the Lakers past the defending champion San Antonio Spurs 103-87 Friday night. He sat out all of the fourth quarter.

"I'm glad to be here," said Malone, the second-leading scorer in NBA history. "Hopefully they're glad to have me."

That goes without saying. He's doing a bit of everything for Los Angeles, which is 13-3.

Malone had 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the fourth triple-double of his career and first since spring 1999. The 6-foot-9, 259-pound forward left the game for good with 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Lakers leading 78-48.

"To get one at any time in your career, that's special. To get one at 40 is a little special. The most important thing is a win," said Malone, who played 18 seasons for the Utah Jazz before signing as a free-agent with the Lakers last summer.

Gary Payton, who also joined the Lakers as a free agent in the offseason, said he has never played with a forward like Malone.

"He is a great passing forward," Payton said. "He rebounded the basketball and made points and he passed the ball really well. He did a great job."

The game was the first between the teams in Los Angeles since May 15, when the Spurs won 110-82 in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. That eliminated the Lakers from the playoffs and ended their quest for a fourth straight NBA championship.

The Lakers are a much different team now, with Payton and Malone providing new support for Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.

"We have a full thrust. Last year, it was a 1-2 punch. This year, it's just a wave. And that's how we play," Bryant said. "I mean, it's not only myself, Karl, Gary and Shaquille. It's also Devean George, because he's featured in our offense."

George shot 8-of-9 and scored a season-high 19 points against the Spurs, making him 15-of-19 for 37 points in his last two games.

He shot 56-of-113 and averaged 9.9 points in the Lakers' first 14 games.

The win was the fifth straight and eighth in nine games for the Lakers and extended their regular-season home winning streak to 24, including nine this season. That ties the Los Angeles franchise record.

The Lakers can eclipse that mark Sunday night against the Indiana Pacers, whose 14-2 record is the NBA's best.

"These games we've got now are a big test for us," Malone said. "We've got another big one Sunday."

The Pacers have won eight straight games overall, and they're 7-0 away from Indianapolis -- the only team that's unbeaten on the road this season.

"They've got to come see us," Bryant said. "They're playing extremely well, and we're playing extremely well, so we're going to fight fire with fire and see what's what."

George said he very much looked forward to the game.

"The Beast of the East," he said of the Pacers. "We're waiting for them."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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