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Hornets’ Mason On A Mission

From Wire Reports

When Charlotte’s Anthony Mason isn’t shaving messages into his scalp or tossing forwards around like rag dolls, he loves to watch gangster movies.

Somehow, that’s not surprising. Glen Rice has captured the national spotlight with his play in recent weeks. But it can argued that Mason is the driving force behind the 34-21 record the Hornets carry into Reunion Arena for tonight’s game against the Mavericks.

His confrontational approach to the game - and even to his teammates - has given the Hornets an edge.

“You could say I’m on a mission,” Mason said. “My mission is to get a little more recognition in this league as one of the top players.”

This crusade has paid dividends. Mason has posted double figures in scoring and rebounding in 32 games. He’s averaged 19.2 points, 12.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists over the last 22 games.

Much of the offense runs through him since the Hornets often find themselves at the mercy of Muggsy Bogues’ brittle knees.

Mason averages 43.6 minutes to lead the league in that category. There have been only six games all season that he has been on the court less than 40 minutes. He can bench press 320 pounds, making him the strongest player ever to wear a Hornets uniform.

Rice scored 33 points to lead Charlotte to a 96-84 victory over the San Antonio Spurs Monday night, extending the Hornets’ winning streak to a season-best five games. Mason added 24 points and 16 rebounds for Charlotte.

Kukoc to get spot starts

Chicago has taken the first step in weaning itself off Dennis Rodman. Bulls coach Phil Jackson has told sixth man Toni Kukoc that he will spot start the rest of the season. “It’s nice to start every once in a while,” said Kukoc, who will start when Chicago doesn’t face a physical, rebounding power forward. “Now, I’m kind of proving my point when I start every five or six games.”

Around the league

San Antonio Spurs guard Vernon Maxwell was ordered by a Houston judge to pay $592,000 to a woman who claimed the NBA player knowingly exposed her to genital herpes.

State District Judge John Donovan granted a default judgment to Sheila Rias after Maxwell failed to show up in court. Maxwell was legally served notice of the civil lawsuit at least twice but failed to respond.

Isaiah Rider has left the Portland Trail Blazers, with permission, to return to his home in Oakland, Calif., because of the death of his cousin, the team announced.

Former University of Montana forward Larry Krystkowiak - whose NBA career has been plagued by injuries - signed a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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