As far as the San Antonio Spurs are concerned, Karl Malone is nothing more than a Goliath who leveled their David. Less than three minutes into Utah's 98-88 win in the Delta Center Wednesday, the Mailman delivered an elbow that floored and eventually hospitalized San Antonio star David Robinson.

"I heard he wasn't just in left field," Will Perdue said of his teammate's condition. "He was out of the ball park."Robinson spent the night at LDS Hospital for precautionary reasons after losing consciousness for a time following an entanglement with Malone while pursuing a loose ball. The Spurs star's head and Malone's elbow collided violently before the San Antonio center landed on the floor face-first.

Robinson suffered a concussion on the play, and a subsequent CAT scan revealed no further injury.

"It was malicious. When I saw it I was at a loss," Spurs forward Sean Elliott said. "If the (NBA) has any guts, they better step up, even though (Malone's) the reigning MVP."

Elliott said Malone, who denies he acted intentionally, deserves to be suspended for his actions.

"You just can't allow that," Elliott said. "We're still fuming."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was so angry about it he limited his postgame remarks to just two sentences.

"We couldn't be more proud of our basketball team tonight," he said. "Thank you very much."

Fifty fouls, including two deemed flagrant, were called in the game that gave the Jazz their second consecutive Midwest Division title.

"Congratulations to Utah," said rookie Tim Duncan, who carried the load with 34 points in Robinson's absence. "But it's not over yet."

Duncan was among several Spurs hoping to meet up with the Jazz in the postseason.

"Next time we'll be ready," Duncan said. "If it's the playoffs and we are up against them, it's a whole different ballgame."

A threat or a promise?

Avery Johnson, who like Elliott watched the game in street clothes because of an injury, is confident San Antonio will get another shot at Utah. What he isn't sure about, however, is if the NBA will take action against Malone.

"Hopefully it will be addressed by the league," Johnson said. "I think it's a no-brainer, but we'll see what happens.

"It didn't look good from what the replay showed," he added. "We don't appreciate that kind of basketball."

San Antonio reserve Monty Williams said cheap shots and the way Utah sets screens have defined the Jazz.

"It happens over and over again," he said. "(They) just always seem to get away with it."

*****

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

West race

Team W L Pct GB

Utah 58 18 .763 -

Seattle 57 19 .750 1

L.A. Lakers 56 20 .737 2

San Antonio 52 25 .675 6 1/2

Phoenix 51 25 .671 7

*****

The Admiral's OK

San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson spent a restful night at LDS Hospital. Spokesman Jess Gomez said he remained in satisfactory condition. After a final check by doctors, Robinson was released Thursday morning. He suffered a concussion when he was knocked out by an elbow from Karl Malone in the first quarter of Utah's win over San Antonio Wednesday.

- Dirk Facer