Heat loses as center returns from ailment

Brand-new Mourning

Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2001

MIAMI -- For the first time in nearly six months, All-Star center Alonzo Mourning was bumping and banging, driving and dunking.

Winning, though, will have to wait.

Mourning, returning to Miami's lineup for the first time since being diagnosed with a kidney disease last October, had nine points and six rebounds in 19 minutes Tuesday night. But the hot-shooting of Vince Carter and Dell Curry carried the Toronto Raptors to a 101-92 win over the Heat, snapping Miami's four-game winning streak.

''I'm not just out here for a show, just to prove I can come back,'' Mourning said. ''I'm out here to win, not just to prove I can come back from this disease. My purpose is to help this team win, that's the bottom line.''

Mourning was 3-of-11 shooting, missing several short jumpers and a few runners in the lane. He was better on defense, changing shots and shutting down Toronto's inside game.

But he had little affect on Carter and Curry.

Carter scored 38 points on 14-of-27 shooting and Currie added a season-high 23 on 8-of-14 from the floor.

''We had to match their intensity and go above and beyond the call of duty,'' Carter said.

Anthony Mason led the Heat with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

The Heat cut the lead to 89-87 with 4:43 to play, but the Raptors scored the next seven points to pull away for good.

Carter scored, then Alvin Williams added a jumper and a 3-pointer to push the lead to 96-87 with three minutes left. Williams finished with 14 points and 11 assists.

Despite the loss, Miami hopes the game was just a glimpse of what could happen in the upcoming playoffs -- especially with Mourning's return.

''We're just going to have to work that out and let that sort of take on a life of its owe,'' coach Pat Riley said. ''We have to get him comfortable and get our players comfortable with him. This is another step in that process.''

Mourning, the Eastern Conference's premier center, started practicing with the team several weeks ago and decided to play after doctors told him his condition might not change for a year. He said he will be monitored closely and his return will be on a game-to-game basis.

David Falk, Mourning's agent, stressed that Mourning is not cured, but his disease is in remission.

A six-time All-Star and a two-time defensive player of the year, Mourning entered the game with 3:43 to play in the first quarter and the Heat trailing 17-14. He jumped off the bench, threw off his warmup jersey and sprinted to the scorer's table to replace Brian Grant, who left with two fouls.

The near-sellout crowd gave Mourning a long standing ovation.

''I got the chills,'' Mourning said. ''It felt great. Words can't express the feeling I have for this city and the support they have given me through this ordeal. They are one of the reasons I made an attempt to come back.''

He responded immediately with a defensive stop, forcing Antonio Davis to turn the ball over on the ensuing possession.

But Mourning missed his first five shots, scoring only from the free throw line, before getting a dunk at the eight-minute mark of the second quarter.

''My concern was trying to be fully productive when I was on the court,'' he said. ''And I've got a lot of work to do.''

The 31-year-old Mourning had been sidelined since being diagnosed with focal glomerulosclerosis, an illness that leads to kidney failure in about half the cases. If Mourning's kidneys fail, he would need dialysis or a transplant.

Mourning has been taking up to 11 pills a day to treat his kidneys and control his blood pressure and cholesterol. He also is following a strict low-sodium diet. He last played Oct. 1 in the U.S. Olympic team's gold-medal victory over France.

''I think he was a little excited, maybe too excited,'' Carter said of Mourning. ''At times, he looked like his old self, running up and down the court, banging with other bodies. Maybe he was too pumped up, though.''

Celtics 115, Hawks 112, OT

ATLANTA -- Paul Pierce scored 41 points and Eric Williams hit a reverse layup with 17.8 seconds remaining to give the Boston Celtics an overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.

Pierce, averaging 36.6 points over Boston's last seven games, hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 13.8 seconds left in regulation to force a 105-105 tie. Bryant Stith's 16-foot jumper fell off the rim with less than one second left in regulation.

Pacers 110, Wizards 102

WASHINGTON -- Jalen Rose had 35 points and 12 assists, and Reggie Miller scored 27 points, as Indiana ended a seven-game road losing streak.

The Pacers, who shot 70 percent in the first quarter and 55 percent overall, withstood a fierce fourth-quarter rally for their first road victory since Feb. 23.

Spurs 93, Hornets 79

SAN ANTONIO -- Tim Duncan scored 24 of his 34 points in the first half and grabbed 19 rebounds as San Antonio dealt Charlotte its third straight loss.

The NBA-leading Spurs reached the 50 victory mark for the 11th time since joining the league in 1976.

Rockets 109, Jazz 86

HOUSTON -- Hakeem Olajuwon returned from the injured list just in time to contribute to a blowout second quarter as Houston handed Utah its worst defeat of the season.

Olajuwon thought his season and possibly his career was over two weeks ago when doctors said he needed to be sidelined 3-to-6 months for treatment of a blood clot in his lower left leg, but further testing led to his return to the lineup. He finished with 11 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes.

Kings 124, Knicks 117, OT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Peja Stojakovic scored 12 of his 29 points in overtime, and Chris Webber had 39 points and 15 rebounds as Sacramento rallied past New York.

Sacramento increased its lead to a full game over the Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific Division, and moved past Utah into second place in the Western Conference.

Clippers 101, Pistons 94

LOS ANGELES -- Lamar Odom had 27 points, 11 assists and a career-high 16 rebounds as the Clippers capitalized on the fourth-quarter ejection of Detroit's Jerry Stackhouse.

Odom's triple-double was his third of the season and the sixth of his career.

Jeff McInnis had 15 points and six assists as the Clippers won for the sixth time in seven games at Staples Center and evened their home record at 18-18.

Stackhouse, the NBA's second-leading scorer, finished with 21 points for Detroit, which lost its fifth straight.

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