EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Karl Malone refused to let a knee injury keep him out of an exhibition game, playing the entire first and third quarters Thursday night as the Utah Jazz lost to the Detroit Pistons 98-94.
Just two nights after hobbling off the court at the Delta Center with a strained left knee, Malone was furthering his ironman reputation. About to begin his 16th NBA season, Malone has missed only six of a possible 1,198 career games - three because of injury and three because of suspension.
"Not bad for an old man," Malone said before the game, adding that he planned to play only a few minutes. He ended up playing 25, missing his first four shots before making four of his next six and finishing with 10 points, four rebounds and three turnovers.
"Maybe I shouldn't have (played so much)," Malone said, "but I'm getting into game shape now. Besides, people come out to see a game and they expect to see certain guys out there."
Jerry Stackhouse had 31 points in just 23 minutes for the Pistons, who played the game at Michigan State's on-campus arena because the Palace of Auburn Hills was being prepared for Friday's Mike Tyson-Andrew Golota heavyweight fight.
Mateen Cleaves, who played for Michigan State's NCAA (news - web sites) championship team last season, started for the Pistons alongside former Spartans teammate Antonio Smith.
Cleaves got a lesson in the way things work in the NBA after he drew a questionable charging foul on future Hall of Famer John Stockton in the first quarter.
After Stockton argued the call, Cleaves was called for charging on the next play.
Seconds after that, Cleaves was whistled for hand-checking Stockton.
"He's going to get calls," Cleaves said. "I hope I learned something from that so I don't make the same mistake."
Stackhouse had three straight baskets early in the third quarter when Jazz rookie DeShawn Stevenson attempted to guard him, helping Detroit open an 18-point lead. Stackhouse scored 19 points in the quarter, which ended with the Pistons ahead by 16, and the Jazz fell behind by 18 again before using a 25-7 run to tie it.
John Wallace hit two free throws with 4.5 seconds left to wrap up the victory for Detroit.
Utah's John Starks was ejected in the third quarter for yelling at one of the referees. Olden Polynice led Utah with 15 points.
Chucky Atkins added 17 points for Detroit. Cleaves had three points, six rebounds, five turnovers, five fouls, three assists and three steals.