Well, so much for long-range plans and Ron Harper's spring vacation.
With everything set for Harper to go on the injured list before Tuesday's game at Phoenix to keep his legs fresh for the playoffs, Kobe Bryant's expected one-game suspension probably will prevent the move.
Coach Phil Jackson hoped to keep Harper rested and at home for the Lakers' two-game trip to Phoenix and Golden State, but with Bryant out, the Lakers will need Harper at guard, and if he's going to make the trip, he might as well remain active for the game in Oakland.
"We probably won't be able to put Harper on the IR like we had planned to, or kind of scripted it out to be," Jackson said.
The Lakers had planned to activate rookie John Celestand in Harper's roster spot and bring Harper back for the last three regular-season games.
"I guess I'm not getting any time off," Harper said with a smile.
Harper scored 12 points to go along with six rebounds and two steals, but said no matter how good he looked on Sunday, he would probably feel a lot better after five games on the sideline.
"I could be real real fresh with about 10-12 days off," Harper said.
Harper, a veteran of three championship runs with the Chicago Bulls, said the Knicks' bruising play was only the beginning of a full diet of bump-and-grind play in the postseason.
"I think it's going to be a big dog-eat-dog fight from here on out," Harper said. "I think the guys on our basketball team understand that. I think we're going to have to play elbow to elbow in the playoffs."
The Knicks, for their part, saluted the Lakers and said that they hope they're the ones who face the Lakers in the NBA finals this June.
"They're the team to beat right now," Latrell Sprewell said. "They definitely showed that today."
Said Knick Coach Jeff Van Gundy: "They are a championship-caliber team, and what they showed us is how far away we are. . . . Basically their defense was far superior to our defense, and their rebounding was far superior to our rebounding.
"Take those two things into it and we are just not at their level."
Once again, the Lakers won when Jackson had predicted they would probably lose. He said that he couldn't see the Lakers sweeping the 76ers on Friday and the Knicks on Sunday, and that is exactly what happened.
"Motivation," Shaquille O'Neal called Jackson's pessimistic pronouncements.
Does he think Jackson does it on purpose? "Of course he does . . . works for me."
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
The Big 3
Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Glen Rice have been the driving force behind the Lakers' success. How they fared:
Sun. Season 34 Points 29.1 12 Rebounds 13.7 4 Assists 3.8
Sun. Season 17 Points 22.2 6 Rebounds 6.1 8 Assists 4.7
Sun. Season 12 Points 15.8 1 Rebounds 4.0 2 Assists 2.1
The Top 3
Best records in the NBA:
Fri. d. Phil., 100-88
Sun. d. New York, 106-82
Sat. d. Milw., 113-79
Sun. d. Seattle, 95-82
Fri. d. GS, 114-97
Sat. l. Denver, 112-92