Los Angeles (28-16) at Indiana (35-13)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Indianapolis, IN
Temp: 35° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Mon Feb 2, 2004
  • TV: KCAL, FSMW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Now Shaquille O’Neal’s teammates may be cursing him.

A profane tirade on live TV resulted in O’Neal being suspended for one game, forcing him to miss the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers.

O’Neal ripped into the officials after Sunday’s 84-83 win over the Toronto Raptors, twice using profanities on live television in a postgame interview. When reminded that he was on live, O’Neal replied with another vulgarity.

“My message to David Stern is get some people in there that understand the game and don’t try to take over the game because people pay good money to see good athletes play,” O’Neal said after scoring 36 points. “Let us play, don’t be trying to take over the game.”

Stern sent a message back on Monday, suspending O’Neal one game without pay just hours after the superstar center issued a statement apologizing for his comments.

“My comments were made out of frustration in the heat of the moment,” O’Neal said. “But I realize that my choice of words was inappropriate and again, I would like to apologize.”

O’Neal, who received a technical foul for arguing with a referee, said he was upset with several non-calls and inconsistency in the officiating.

The Lakers were already missing fellow stars Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone.

Bryant was placed on the injured list Friday because of a severe cut on his right index finger that will keep him out of action for at least a week. Malone is most likely out until mid-March with a sprained knee.

The Pacers, winners of two straight, also are likely to be without their superstar player.

Leading scorer Jermaine O’Neal left Saturday’s 99-98 win over the Boston Celtics in the second quarter with a neck strain. The All-Star forward appeared to grab his right shoulder after blocking a shot from Boston’s Ricky Davis.

He is listed as doubtful to play in this game.

“He’s sore and walking around with a stiff neck,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “He took a pretty good shot.”

With O’Neal sidelined, forward Ron Artest carried the scoring load, and in the process made a case for himself to be chosen as an All-Star reserve this week.

Artest finished with 23 points and five steals and made a crucial stop against Paul Pierce in the final seconds.

“I just played regular defense and tried to stay with him wherever he went,” Artest said. “It was maybe a little extra effort but not any more than I try to bring to the table every night.”

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