Forgive the Heat for being concerned about the lingering pain in center Alonzo Mourning's surgically repaired left knee. Mourning concedes that the knee, which was operated on on Sept. 27, probably won't fully heal until the off-season, and coach Pat Riley has already told him to rest it whenever he needs to. If backup center Ike Austin is dealt, as expected, any missed time for Mourning would make Miami vulnerable in the middle.
Larry bird may be a legend in his home state, but his presence on the Pacers' bench has not boosted attendance at Market Square Arena. Despite a 26-11 record through Sunday, the best start in franchise history, Indiana had sold out only three games and was averaging 15,284 fans, a 2% drop from last season.
Spurs Rookie forward Tim Duncan was averaging 11.7 boards a game at week's end, fourth best in the league; some teammates think he's already a better rebounder than San Antonio center David Robinson. "Once he learns to root people out from under the basket, he'll be even stronger," says Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. On the offensive boards Duncan has a knack for catching a rebound, keeping the ball high and putting it right back up, like Celtics great Kevin McHale.
Coaches implore their players to take the ball to the hole, which often results in a trip to the line. At week's end the Lakers had attempted 1,248 free throws, the most in the league, but they had connected on only 69.4%, fourth worst in the league. Notorious bricklayer Shaquille O'Neal (49.4%) isn't the only culprit. L.A.'s other power players ( Elden Campbell, Robert Horry, Sean Rooks and Corey Blount) were shooting a combined 61.8%.
Even more enjoyable for Hawks guard Steve Smith than the 22.5 points he was averaging over his last 14 games through Sunday is the fact that he's playing without a brace or sleeve on right knee, which was surgically repaired after the 1991-92 season. Smith was told by team doctors that he would never play again without some support for his knee.