Malone fouled hard in first quarter

Updated: December 31, 2003, 7:19 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Karl Malone sprained his right knee in the opening minutes of Sunday night's game against the Phoenix Suns, causing him to leave the game for good.

With the Lakers trailing 9-2, Malone fell to the floor and grabbed his knee after being fouled by Scott Williams.

After a brief delay, Malone made one of two free throws before leaving the game 10 seconds later and walking to the Lakers' locker room.

A team spokesman said X-rays didn't reveal any damage, but Malone will have an MRI exam Monday.

Malone, the NBA's second-leading career scorer behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, has missed only 11 games in his career -- six due to injuries or illness and five because of suspensions.

The 40-year-old Malone joined the Lakers as a free agent last summer after playing 18 seasons for the Utah Jazz.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press