Though many of his teammates disliked the four-day gap between Game 2 and Game 3, Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal appreciated the time off.

"I'm like a broken-down bumper car. I just need some oil," O'Neal said. "I get beat up so much. It was nice to get a couple of days to get a little massagey-saage-saage, sit in the hot tub and go swimming."Eddie Jones, however, thinks the layoff may prove to be beneficial to Utah in the long run.

"That team is old," he said of the Jazz. "We've been playing all the other series every other night. Why stop now? "You want to be out there playing. You hate having to simulate a game at practice by scrimmaging. You want to be out there against the team that embarrassed you."

FANTASTIC: What's it like to be coach of the Lakers? Let's put it this way: you have a lot of help.

Harris, who has a Web site (, says he has had hundreds of suggestions on how to coach the Lakers to a win over the Jazz. "I've had all sorts of bizarre ideas," he said.

Harris joked that he has and will continue to receive ideas on stopping the Jazz's pick-and-roll.

"Everybody, probably in the next couple of days, will be sending suggestions on how to stop Karl and John on the pick-and-roll," said Harris on Thursday. "But we've got some tricks. You never know. We might have taken some of the stuff off"

NO MAGIC: It wasn't just the current Lakers who were frustrated on Friday night. At halftime of TNT's national cablecast, Magic Johnson expressed his unhappiness in no uncertain terms.

"We're playing right into their hands," said Johnson, currently a vice president in the Lakers organization. "We're playing Shaquille, Shaquille, Shaquille, Shaquille, Shaquille."

And that wasn't the half of it, as far as he was concerned.

"I'm not disappointed we're down. I disappointed we've got no emotion," Johnson said, gritting his teeth and rolling his eyes.

If the Lakers looked befuddled at times, then so did TNT play-by-play man Dick Stockton. At one point, he referred to "Ernest `Magic' Johnson."

Um, that would be "Earvin."

SHAQ'S NOT TRENDY: Since the league adopted the conference format in 1970, no Western Conference team has overcome an 0-2 deficit to advance to the finals - a fact apparently lost on Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal.

"History is meant to be broken," O'Neal said after the Lakers prepared for Game 3.

Just not this time, apparently.

EXECUTION 101: Rick Fox said not all was lost when the Lakers returned from Salt Lake City empty-handed. The two series-opening setbacks provided L.A. with some enlightenment.

"I think if anything, (the Jazz have) proven to me and to most of the guys on this team that there's a reason why they went to the finals last year.

There's a reason they're back in the Western Conference finals," Fox said.

WAITING HIS TURN: At 19, Kobe Bryant's basketball future is bright. His present, however, includes nearly as much pine time as prime time. Through the first two games of the Western Conference finals, Bryant was fourth on the Lakers in minutes played (26.5 average).

"It's very easy to be patient in this situation because there's so much that I learn being on a playoff and championship-contending team," Bryant said.




On occasion, the Jazz have successfully employed a "hack-Shaq" defensive strategy to contain L.A.'s big man. Here's how the trio of Jazz centers utilized their fouls on the Lakers' center of attention Friday night.

Players Min. Fouls Fouls against Shaq

Foster 14 4 4

Ostertag 27 4 4

Carr 15 5 2

O'Neal's line

Min. 41

FTA 13


Pts. 39


Shaq O'Neal's Elbow Room!

How many times the big fella sent his "future" Hall of Fame elbows on a search and destroy mission.

Game 3 - 3


Karl Malone's Kick Count!

Number of times the Mailman raised his leg with intent to "maim".

Game 3 - 1