The Lakers on Sunday put Greg Foster squarely in their cross-hairs for the April 19 regular-season finale at the Great Western Forum, an emotion they showed about 24 hours too late but showed nonetheless.
"I wish we could play them in the first round," Rick Fox said of the Utah Jazz. "It's personal now."
The night before in Salt Lake City, Foster went by the Laker bench after an driving dunk, putting a finger to his neck and dragging it across the throat. That no Laker put him on his back before the Jazz center came out of the game about a minute later was either an indication they would not fight back in that way or simply a matter of timing, that they didn't have time to drop him.
"Put it this way," Fox said. "Coach [Jerry Sloan] took him out just in time, because I just went back in.
"I told Jerry to take him out. I said, 'You better get him out. He was like, 'Why?' I said, 'You'll find out.' The next trip downcourt, he was out."
Said Shaquille O'Neal, noting the Lakers will meet up with Foster at least once more, with more games possible in the playoffs: "When he goes up, he'd better go up strong. There'll be a couple guys trying to take his head off."
Or maybe O'Neal could run into Foster somewhere? Say, a shootaround?
"Nah," O'Neal said. "I don't do that anymore."
The Lakers faced John Stockton for the first time since he returned from the knee surgery that cost him the opening 18 games of the season and came away offering praise.
"About the same," Nick Van Exel said when asked how Stockton looked, the highest praise of all. "It doesn't seem like he's lost much."
Added Coach Del Harris: "His brain is still intact."