Sat, Dec 11, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Alonzo Mourning fights fatigue

AMERICAN BASKETBALL Having survived a kidney transplant, New Jersey's center is now hampered by a host of other injuries

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEYAP, DALLAS, TEXAS

Ricky Davis, right, of the Celtics drives against Theo Ratliff of the Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden in Portland, Thursday.

PHOTO: AFP

One of Alonzo Mourning's goals this season, in his remarkable comeback from the kidney transplant he had last Dec. 19, was to play all 82 games, whether it was for the Nets or for somebody else.

On Thursday, however, Mourning said he might have to ask to be put on the injured list, because most of the rest of his body aches. He cannot take anti-inflammatory painkillers because of his medical situation. All that he is allowed to take is anti-rejection medicine for his kidney and the occasional Tylenol.

"I think I've played more basketball in the past couple of months than I have in the past couple of years," Mourning said.

He has appeared in all 18 of the Nets' games so far, starting 14 of them and averaging 25.4 minutes a game. Last season, Mourning played just 12 games before having the transplant. He did not play at all the season before because of the kidney ailment that necessitated the transplant.

"Right now, my body is breaking down on me physically," he said Thursday. "And the only way for me to get better is to rest it."

Mourning, the Nets' 34-year-old center, is third on the team in scoring at 10.4 points a game and second in rebounding, at 7.1 a game. He said his kidney condition is fine, but his right hand, his right hip and his right knee are aching.

"He's just banged up," coach Lawrence Frank said. "And he can't take pain relievers."

Mourning could go on the injured list as soon as Friday night, when the Nets (5-13) are host to their former coach, Byron Scott, and the lowly New Orleans Hornets (1-16), in Scott's first meeting against the Nets since he was fired last Jan. 26.

"I have to be smart about this," Mourning said. "If they expect me to play 25 to 30 minutes a game, I have to play at a high level."

He said that in the second half against Cleveland on Tuesday night, he had "no legs." He added, "I thought I could do it taking Tylenol occasionally. But it can't happen."

Mourning scored all of his 16 points against the Cavaliers in the first three quarters, but he missed all four of his field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter. He said it was telling that he scored most of his points on long jump shots. "I have a nice touch for a big man, but I was just shooting jumpers," he said.

He had two rebounds in 28 minutes against the Cavaliers in a 103-97 defeat. Mourning said the team might have been better off had his stats been reversed -- 16 rebounds and 2 points.

Rashard Lewis erased a fourth-quarter deficit then protected Seattle's lead with a high-flying baseline dunk, a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and two free throws with 18.5 seconds to go in the Supersonic's 107-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

"Rashard is playing like a man possessed," said teammate Ray Allen, who followed his 29 against the Spurs with 22. "He's on a mission. He's been a guy who's willing to stand back and watch, but this year he's stepping up and is one of the guys at the forefront."

One night after becoming the first team this season to win in San Antonio, Seattle won its fourth straight game and ninth in 10 games to reclaim the NBA's best record at 17-3.

Dallas lost at home for the fifth time this season, matching last year's total in just 12 games. More troubling for the Mavericks is that all the losses have come against winning teams. Vladimir Radmanovic had 18 points for Seattle, including 5-of-7 on 3-pointers.

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