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But what alien being entered Bol's body in Phoenix? After all, over the last three seasons he had made just two of 31 three-point attempts. But against the Suns—and old teammate Charles Barkley, who in his autobiography had derided Bol's lack of offensive skills—Bol made his first two three-pointers and five of his first eight. So Sixer coach Doug Moe, who has always enjoyed a sideshow as much as the next guy, allowed Bol to keep launching. Incredibly Bol converted a few of his attempts from well beyond the 23'9" circle. "They don't guard me so I shoot," deadpanned Bol, who finished with 18 points on six-for-12 shooting from three-point range in a 125-115 Phoenix win. ( Moe's move proved to be one of his final coaching decisions. He was fired on Sunday evening, just one day after the 76ers were thrashed by the SuperSonics 149-93 in Seattle. The 76ers' record was 19-37, the league's fifth-worst.)
Seikaly, the Heat's starting center for the past five seasons, has been unhappy lately, so maybe he was trying to prove a point. Though he started against the Bullets, he had lately been coming off the bench, a role he clearly did not relish.
MR. SMITH RETURNS
It's difficult for a 6'8" point guard to be overlooked, but that's what has happened to the Heat's Steve Smith this season. The explosive potential of rookie Harold Miner, the speculation about whether coach Kevin Loughery would lose his job and the mercurial nature of Seikaly have all overshadowed Smith's quiet return to the lineup, on Jan. 20, after having missed 34 games while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. But this much is clear: Miami, which was awful without Smith, now could make the playoffs—and the reason isn't Miner, Loughery or Seikaly but Smith.
Smith (along with Nugget Dikembe Mutombo) was the early sensation of last year's rookie class. His size, composure and leadership abilities drew comparisons to his boyhood hero Magic Johnson, a fellow Michigan State alumnus and sometime workout partner in summer pickup games during Smith's college days in Last Lansing. But Smith underwent knee surgery after 33 games of the 1991-92 season, and he was further set back by the death of his mother—her nickname, Bell, is embossed on his sneakers—from cancer last spring. When he returned to action in February of last season (too soon, it turned out), he played tentatively, and many people forgot just how good he had been earlier in the year.
The same knee bothered him again in training camp this season, and he was 'scoped for a second time in October. Without him the Heat was 10-24, while relying on a point guard combination of Bimbo Coles, a solid backup but not much more, and Brian Shaw, who has been on the Miami trading block since soon after he arrived from the Celtics in January 1992. But with Smith's sure hands on the reins again, Miami had gone 14-8 as of Sunday. They were on a six-game winning streak and in a battle with the Pacers, the Hawks and the Pistons for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
The versatile Smith was averaging 15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists since his return. He can swing to shooting guard from time to time, and he is one of the better post-up guards in the league. In a solid 114-99 victory over Indiana on Sunday, for example, Smith frustrated the 6'1" Pooh Richardson by taking him low and scoring repeatedly. Smith's only liability is on defense, where he has trouble guarding small, quick opponents. Then again, so did Magic.
HE HAS A DREAM
In his spare time Celtic assistant Jon Jennings is not likely to be found watching soap operas or poring over the sports pages. More likely he will be holed up in a library somewhere researching a book he plans to write on some of the most celebrated political speeches of the 20th century. During a road trip to Atlanta earlier this season, for example, Jennings conducted research at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, where he met King's son, Martin Luther King III. He has also examined material at the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester, Mass.