Around the NBA
The visiting Chicago Bulls overcame a poor shooting performance by Michael Jordan and the absence of Dennis Rodman to trip the Toronto Raptors 96-83 Thursday night.
Jordan scored only 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting, but Luc Longley and Scottie Pippen each scored 16 as the Bulls snapped a two-game losing streak at Toronto.
Toni Kukoc, rejoining Chicago after missing 12 games with a foot injury, scored eight points. Rodman, who sprained his left knee in Tuesday’s win over Dallas, will miss the Bulls’ last 13 regular-season games.
Damon Stoudamire scored 18 points for Toronto, which lost its fourth straight.
Jordan grabbed 10 rebounds, but missed his first six shots and was 3 for 13 from the field in the first half.
Longley and Jason Caffey, however, picked up the slack, scoring 10 points each as the Bulls took a 50-38 halftime lead.
Mookie Blaylock scored 26 points and teammate Steve Smith added 19 as Atlanta won its sixth straight game by beating the visiting Los Angeles Clippers 103-88 and pulled within percentage points of Detroit for the No. 4 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference… . Monty Williams scored 20 points and Dominique Wilkins hit two free throws with 14 seconds left to the clinch the victory as San Antonio picked up a 97-93 home win over Orlando… . Eddie Johnson had a season-high 27 points and 10 rebounds night as Houston soared past visiting Cleveland 107-89.
Calipari talks, but not of fine
New Jersey Nets coach John Calipari had no further comment on the $25,000 fine Commissioner David Stern handed him Wednesday for the ethnic insult he yelled to a Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger reporter last week. But Calipari, according to the New York Times, did distance himself from comments made by his agent, Craig Fenech, who characterized the punishment as unfair.
“I heard there were some comments by Craig in the newspaper today, but that was not on my behalf,” Calipari said after a Nets practice. “And he was not speaking for me. My statement was made last night.”
Calipari’s statement included an acceptance of the largest fine given to a National Basketball Association coach. Fenech had questioned Stern’s authority in reaching beyond his normal responsibilities to punish the coach for remarks made outside the limits of a basketball game.
“I guess John was tried and convicted without a hearing,” Fenech said on Wednesday.
Stockton streak in danger
A special accomplishment is within reach as veteran Indiana point guard Mark Jackson ends a year of turmoil.
Jackson is threatening to snap John Stockton’s streak of nine years as the NBA assists leader.
Jackson, who was traded by the Pacers to Denver last June and reacquired last month, has 813 assists. He’s averaging 11.8 assists with 13 games to play. Stockton is second with 727 and a 10.5 average with 14 games remaining.
“Leading the league would be nice, but it isn’t something that is important to me right now,” Jackson said.
“I’ve always been all about winning, and that’s my major concern right now. We haven’t done that as much as I like in recent weeks.”
Since rejoining the Pacers 17 games ago, Jackson has totaled 173 assists - third-highest on the team for the season. He set a franchise NBA record with 19 against Milwaukee Feb. 28.