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HOOP SCOOP
Marty Burns
April 14, 1997
Gregg Popovich the Spurs' coach-G.M., denies reports that he's looking to rejoin former boss and current Mavericks G.M. Don Nelson by taking the Dallas coaching job next season. "I'm not going anywhere," says Popovich, who was Nellie's top assistant with the Warriors from May 1992 to May 1994. "The only question for me is whether I'm going to coach this team next year or step aside." Popovich is no fool. With All-Stars David Robinson and Sean Elliott expected to be fully recovered from their injuries and with a little luck in the lottery (Wake Forest's Tim Duncan or Utah's Keith Van Home would fit nicely), San Antonio should be back among the Western Conference elite next season....
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April 14, 1997

Hoop Scoop

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Gregg Popovich the Spurs' coach-G.M., denies reports that he's looking to rejoin former boss and current Mavericks G.M. Don Nelson by taking the Dallas coaching job next season. "I'm not going anywhere," says Popovich, who was Nellie's top assistant with the Warriors from May 1992 to May 1994. "The only question for me is whether I'm going to coach this team next year or step aside." Popovich is no fool. With All-Stars David Robinson and Sean Elliott expected to be fully recovered from their injuries and with a little luck in the lottery ( Wake Forest's Tim Duncan or Utah's Keith Van Home would fit nicely), San Antonio should be back among the Western Conference elite next season....

New Jersey's attempt to showcase guard Jimmy Jackson (25.4 points over the past five games) for an off-season trade has all but killed Kerry Kittles's chance of winning Rookie of the Year. Since Jackson replaced Kittles as the starting 2 guard, the rookie is averaging 13.6 points (down from 15.5) on 37.9% shooting, and his playing time has dropped by nearly seven minutes a game....

Jazz president Frank Layden is coy about Utah's hopes for an NBA title. "People ask me all the time, Are the Jazz good enough to win the championship?' I tell them no," says Layden. "It's better to surprise people than to disappoint them."...

With 2.68 steals per game through Sunday, Hawks guard Mookie Blaylock is about to swipe the NBA steals crown from reigning champ Gary Payton of the Sonics (2.42 this season). Payton recently called Blaylock "the best one-on-one defender in the league."...

The return of Heat guard Dan Majerle from back surgery means that 6'4", 205-pound guard Voshon Lenard, who is averaging 12.2 points per game, will head back to the bench. Majerle, at 6'6" and 220, gives the Heat a bigger body to guard tall Eastern Conference guards such as 6'6" Michael Jordan, 6'7" Penny Hardaway and 6'8" Steve Smith....

Rockets forward Charles Barkley, who seems to talk about retirement every season and has missed 50 games in the past three seasons with various injuries, now says he expects to play into the next century. "Probably three or four more years," says the Chuckster....

With Hornets forward Anthony Mason sidelined and guard Dell Curry at less than 100% last week, 37-year-old Ricky Pierce, acquired in a Feb. 20 trade with Denver, stepped into the starting lineup and scored 16 and 19 points in wins over the Hawks and the Nets, respectively. "I say a prayer every night thanking God that we got him," says Charlotte coach Dave Cowens....

Rockets backup center Charles Jones, 40, came off injured reserve on March 31 and saw his first action in more than two months in Houston's 116-99 victory over Denver on April 1. He played four games in January before going on IR, meaning that a Jones brother—Wil, Caldwell, Major or Charles—has played in an NBA game every calendar year since 1976. All four brothers attended Albany (Ga.) State, where they were coached by another brother, Oliver....

Before the red-hot Blazers, who had won 14 of 16 games, hosted woeful Golden State at the Rose Garden on April Fools' Day, Portland coach P.J. Carlesimo said his players hadn't "even come close to crossing the line" of overconfidence. The next night the Warriors upset Portland 91-82.

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