O'Neal Expects Quick Return

Times Staff Writer

Shaquille O'Neal missed Sunday night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies because of a strained right calf but has told teammates that he expects to play Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards.

While Phil Jackson said he couldn't be sure that O'Neal wouldn't sit out another game or two, O'Neal apparently believes the strength will return to his calf, injured during Friday night's game against Chicago.

As of Sunday morning, O'Neal was unable to jump and he decided before the game that he would not play.

O'Neal limped through the locker room before the game and did not speak to reporters.

Jackson called it "disappointing" that O'Neal was unable to play, but did not believe he would do further damage to the calf when he did return.

"This is one of those injuries that, although it's painful, you're not capable of hurting it worse," he said.


Karl Malone, who could become the NBA's all-time leading scorer next season, said Sunday night that when he retires he will be prouder of his rebounds than his points.

A 6-foot-9 power forward, Malone has 14,748 career rebounds, more than all but five players, all of them centers: Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elvin Hayes (who also played forward) and Moses Malone. Moses Malone, who ranks fifth, is about 2,500 ahead of Karl.

"Between the two," Malone said of the rebounding and scoring numbers, accumulated over 18-plus seasons, "I'd say the rebounds have more meaning. Rebounding, to me, is a dirty job. You score 18 points, that's pretty good. But 18 rebounds, that's a lot of work.

"Considering a lot of teams didn't draft me [12 in the 1985 draft], who said I didn't work hard enough or wasn't coachable, it's a decent feeling."

It is not, however, his favorite statistic over nearly two decades.

"I think," he said, "it would be 'Games Missed Due to Injury.' "

Since 1985: Four.


Jackson told his coaching staff during training camp that he would wait until the Lakers completed O'Neal's contract extension before having his representatives resume negotiations on his.

O'Neal's agents are believed to be making progress, the sides having exchanged figures on a two-year extension in recent weeks, and discussions are ongoing.

A contract for Jackson likely would mean extensions for his staff, whose contracts, like Jackson's, expire at the conclusion of the season.

By maintaining that he believes negotiations would go smoothly and that he could not envision coaching anywhere but in Los Angeles and for owner Jerry Buss, Jackson has kept his contract status from becoming an issue in a season that has leaned toward tumultuous.


The Lakers activated forward Slava Medvedenko and placed center Jamal Sampson on the injured list.

Medvedenko missed the final week of training camp and 13 games because of a bruised left heel. Sampson played four minutes over two games.

Medvedenko made seven of eight shots Sunday and had 14 points and 11 rebounds.


Gary Payton and The Gary Payton Foundation will hand out 200 Thanksgiving dinners to families of the Challengers Boys & Girls Club on Tuesday in Los Angeles.... Payton, who has 7,683 career assists, could pass Rod Strickland for sixth place on the all-time list in the next two weeks.

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