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THE NBA / MARK HEISLER : Nets Being Cut Down With No Title in Sight

December 03, 1995|Mark Heisler

"Make a trade," Stackhouse said last week. "Do what you're going to do. There's been a lot of trade talk. Everybody's talking the last two weeks. We've got to be able to compete in the middle. We've got to make a change."

The amazing thing is, it might work.

Lucas is no X's and O's genius, but he's the dynamo who lighted the fire under David Robinson in San Antonio. The 76ers have young stars--Stackhouse and Clarence Weatherspoon--a new arena going up and $7 million in salary-cap room coming, so if Lucas can mellow out Coleman, he might have something.

Of course, if he can mellow out Coleman, he's wasted on the NBA and should go to the UN.

GOOD-TIME CHARLIE HAS THE BLUES

The Suns are, as they say, "quietly concerned" about Charles Barkley's attitude, which is even more casual than usual, or depressed, depending on when you talk to him.

Barkley came in heavy and is still getting into shape, at his own pace. Before a recent game against the Lakers in Phoenix, he flew to Las Vegas, gambled all night, flew home for the morning shoot-around and played like a zombie, with as many turnovers as rebounds.

"The moral of the story is, don't go to Vegas and gamble the night before a big game," he said later. "I would have felt bad spending all the money I'd won if we'd lost."

Rested or not, Barkley wasn't much better in Wednesday's rematch in the Forum, forcing up three-pointers, one after another. He went two for 10 from the arc, looked over at a team official on press row and pantomimed shooting himself.

The Suns have more problems. Kevin Johnson is coming back from his 19th physical breakdown. In a home loss to Utah, Hot Rod Williams and Joe Kleine were outscored, 17-6, by Greg Foster and Antoine Carr, the Jazz's Nos. 3 and 4 centers.

After the loss to the Lakers, Coach Paul Westphal said he would take the blame for changing the offense too much.

He was asked if that had been a problem all along.

"Tonight," Westphal said, grinning. "I'm not taking it for all 13 games."

NAMES AND NUMBERS

The War Between the Js: As the Dallas Mavericks' losing streak rose to seven, a rift opened between Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson on one side, and Jamal Mashburn on the other. Things got so bad between Jackson and Mashburn, they had a team meeting to discuss it. "There are a couple of people who got mad at each other and they're polarizing our team," Coach Dick Motta said. "They won't pass to each other, won't speak to each other. They're being very immature about it." Jackson and Mashburn say they have made up. Motta is warning players about personal agendas and "the fourth J--jealousy."

Clyde Drexler's new extension is for two years at a reasonable $6 million apiece. Said Houston owner Les Alexander, congratulating himself, "I'm the kind of owner who turns his attention to everything that needs to be addressed regarding our players." He can afford it. Drexler is making $9.75 million this season, but the Portland Trail Blazers are paying $7 million of it.

Minnesota's Kevin Garnett, 19, is averaging 6.8 points and learning many valuable lessons, which would have been easier to learn in college. "I'm not going to say everything is roses, but I'm doing all right," he says. "It's a league full of old men who foul a lot. But it's not that different from playground ball, except the talent level is higher." Coach Bill Blair says he would like to play Garnett closer to the basket, but at 6 feet 11 and only 210 pounds, the kid has to be a small forward for the moment. "We had a talk," teammate Doug West said. "[Garnett] told me this isn't as fun as he thought it would be."

The Golden State Warriors have all five starters on the all-star ballot, suggesting the process needs rethinking or the team shouldn't be last in the Pacific Division. After a loss to his former Portland team, Coach Rick Adelman praised the Trail Blazers' toughness. Asked if the Warriors had that, he answered, "That's a good question." . . . Lucas, on Grant Hill's complaint to him about being surrounded by mediocre players: "I told him, why did he think he was there? I tell Jerry [Stackhouse] the same thing. This ain't like college. He didn't have the choice of going to North Carolina or Duke. He didn't have the choice of going to Orlando or New York. He [Stackhouse] came here because we're terrible." . . . Charles Oakley of the Knicks, teasing Charlotte Hornet players about losing Alonzo Mourning: "You got a kitchen with no stove. How are you going to cook?"

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