Laker coach Del Harris, who knows a thing or two about martial arts - just ask him - said before the series started that Karl Malone was going to hurt people because he kicks when he goes up for shots.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.As outrageous as Harris' comments were before the series, he was equally embarrassing afterward.

"I've never said anything about the referees," Harris said following Sunday's game prior to blasting the refs for several minutes in his post game press conference. Harris was upset at several calls in the final two minutes of the game - a couple of loose ball fouls on his players and a no-call that he thought was a foul on the Jazz.

"They can fine me if they want," said Harris after blasting the officials, " but that's not the way it should be decided."

Former Laker star and part owner Magic Johnson had some tough comments about his beloved team.

"Utah's hustle beat us," he said. "Their desire beat us. Every loose ball, they got it. Every big play, they made it . . . . When you lose like this, rumors fly. (Utah) is better than us, yes, but not 4-0 better than us."

WIN A QUARTER: Not only did the Lakers lose four straight games to the Jazz, they barely won a quarter. The Jazz out-scored or tied the Lakers in 13 of the 16 quarters in the series. The Lakers actually outscored the Jazz in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but lost the first three so Utah had enough padding to spare a few.

Utah has now won 59 consecutive games when leading after three quarters.

CELEBRATION GEAR: The NBA's marketing arm presented Jazz players and staff, as well as national media-types, with Western Conference championship T-shirts and hats as soon as the game ended. The duds also popped up at stores in Utah, including the airport gift shops, hours after the series was decided.

FACES IN THE CROWD: Actor John Lithgow, who was loudly booed by Jazz fans during last year's NBA finals in the Delta Center when he mouthed the words "Go Bulls" on the Jumbotron, sang the national anthem. Other stars seen at Game 4 included L.A. regulars Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon, as well as Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, actor Dennis Haskins ("Saved by the Bell"), actor Rob Reiner and former baseball great Steve Garvey.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL: Much has been made concerning the future of the Los Angeles Lakers. The rumor mill already has Harris' job in jeopardy and a handful of players possibly on the move.

Shaquille O'Neal, the self-proclaimed leader of the Lakers, said he's put his trust in a higher source.

"Jerry West (who may retire) is a great general manager. I hope he's here. He'll probably be here and he'll make the right decisions," O'Neal said.

"Jerry West and I will talk."

Shaq refused to go into details, but said guys around him have to step it up and decide what's important to them.

"If they don't want to play, they need to ask for a trade," O'Neal said. "If they don't want to play then get off my team."

BRING ON THE PACERS: NBC may cringe at the thought of the Jazz and Pacers meeting in the NBA Finals, but former Utah Stars assistant coach Larry Creger is among those who hope it happens. Utah and Indiana were fierce rivals in the old American Basketball Association, dating back 28 years.

"The Pacers and the Stars used to really go after it," said Creger, who attended Sunday's Jazz game. "It was a big thrill when we beat them in the Western finals in '71."

The Stars went on to win Utah's first and only professional basketball championship that year, edging the Kentucky Colonels in seven games for the title.

Creger, who is semi-retired but hopes to do some NBA scouting next season, thinks Salt Lake City ought to make room in its trophy case for another hoop crown. He acknowledged it won't be easy for the Jazz - especially against Chicago.

"They can take the Bulls," Creger said. "It'll be tough. They're pretty even."

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE: My, what a difference a week makes. In the opening moments of Game 1 of the Jazz-Lakers series, NBC analyst Steve "Snapper" Jones was talking about how "everybody" was expecting L.A. to blow right through Utah. In the opening moments of Game 4, Jones was talking about how the Jazz had played just "as expected."

Significant numbers from NBC's broadcast of Game 4 include:

Seven: Number of times viewers were told that no NBA team had ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit.

Fourteen: Number of times viewers were told that Shaq played great but the rest of the Lakers didn't.

Zero: Number of shots of Jack Nicholson - four less than TNT's coverage of Game 3. (What, wasn't he there?)

CRYING IN THE WIND: Even though the series was over, the Lakers couldn't help but complain about the officiating one more time.

"We didn't really get any breaks the whole series," said O'Neal, who missed eight free throws Sunday.

His coach (Harris) questioned how Game 4 was decided on loose ball rebounds where possession didn't change hands. Harris also griped about non-calls involving Eddie Jones down the stretch.

The kicker, however, came from Horry when asked who he thought would win the NBA championship.

"I don't know yet," he said before getting to the point. "But the way Utah is getting calls right now, I'll say Utah."

Go figure. A conspiracy theory by the league to put Utah and not Los Angeles in the NBA finals.