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Malone, Robinson set to go elbow to elbow

The last time the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs met, Karl Malone knocked out David Robinson by slamming an elbow in his face.

Robinson's planned revenge? Flatten Utah's dreams of an NBA title by winning the Western Conference semifinal series.

"If certain things come up in this series where it gets kind of physical, we'll have to answer to that. But stuff in the past, we have to let that go," the Spurs' star center said.

"We can't go in there with some kind of attitude where we have a chip on our shoulders. We have to go in there with our minds clear because they're going to be ready."

After Robinson got off the Delta Center floor on March 8, he spent the night in the hospital and missed San Antonio's next three games with a concussion. He also strained his knee falling to the court.

Malone, who apologized to Robinson, was suspended for one game, snapping his NBA-best streak of 543 consecutive starts.

The Jazz remembers the Spurs' vows of revenge, but it's confident the best-of-seven series that begins today at the Delta Center won't turn into a Knicks-Heat slugfest.

"It would be out of character for them to do something to try and get back at Karl," Utah guard Jeff Hornacek said. "If that happens, I would be really surprised."

After practice Monday, Malone refused to talk about the fallout from elbowing Robinson, but he did say both teams will be prepared for war.

"It's important for us to do our thing and not worry about the other issues," Malone said. "They stand up for themselves, and we stand up for ourselves."

The series is more likely to be decided under the boards than in the back alleys. San Antonio's monster frontcourt of 7-footers Robinson, Will Perdue and rookie of the year Tim Duncan will be a challenge for top-seeded Utah, but the recent re-emergence of Greg Ostertag bodes well for the Jazz.

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