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NETS, TRAIL BLAZERS STUCK IN THE 60S

Alonzo Mourning was the lone bright spot in a game that nearly set the NBA mark for scoring futility.

In his first start since his kidney transplant in December and his first since the 2001-02 season, Mourning scored 14 points and powered his way inside for two key late baskets to help the New Jersey Nets beat the Trail Blazers, 64-60, Tuesday night in what was almost the lowest scoring game in modern NBA history.

The 124-point total was only five off the previous record for combined scoring futility. Boston beat Milwaukee, 62-57, in 1955, the first year of the NBA's 24-second shot clock.

Mourning had 12 rebounds and three blocks in his first start since his days with the Miami Heat.

"I don't think we have the depth we need in order to outscore teams," Mourning said. "We have the heart and ability to outwork teams."

The teams combined for 44 field goals, an NBA record for fewest in a game.

Wilkens safe for now

NEW YORK -- Lenny Wilkens can breathe easier. His job, at least for now, is safe.

The coach with more wins and losses than anyone in NBA history gained some job security Tuesday night despite coaching without a hand-picked assistant for the first time in his career as the New York Knicks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 96-88.

One day after his longtime confidant Dick Helm was forced to resign following a 34-point loss in the home opener, Wilkens gained his 1,316th career coaching victory.

"It was a must-win. We couldn't go 0-3, especially with the road trip we've got coming up. There's no way," the Knicks' Penny Hardaway said.

Team President Isiah Thomas announced before the game that he "won't be coaching the New York Knicks," though he said he might accept a head coaching job with another organization later in his career.

McGrady injured in win

HOUSTON -- Juwan Howard scored 20 points, Yao Ming added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets kept Memphis winless this season, beating the Grizzlies, 90-87, despite losing Tracy McGrady to a hip injury.

McGrady left midway through the third quarter with a right hip strain and didn't return. He finished with 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds. The star guard limped out of the arena after the game and said he wasn't sure if he would be able to play Thursday against Minnesota. ~
Pacers bench Artest

MINNEAPOLIS -- It looks as if it's going to take more than myriad injuries and a suspended star to stop the Indiana Pacers.

Jermaine O'Neal had 22 points and eight rebounds to help the banged-up, unbeaten Pacers hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves, 102-101 -- with Ron Artest benched for an unspecified reason.

Artest, an All-Star and the NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, did something Monday that "compromised the integrity of the team." That's according to coach Rick Carlisle, who called it a "private team matter." Artest won't play tonight, either.

Around the rim

Shaquille O'Neal has the Heat off to its best start ever after scoring 20 points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking three shots in a 103-93 victory over the Wizards. The Heat is 4-0 for the first time in club history. . . . Kobe Bryant scored 31 points -- including 14 of 14 from the foul line -- to lead the Lakers to a 106-98 win that dropped the Hornets to 0-4 for the first time since the 1989-90 season. . . . Amare Stoudemire had 26 points and a season-high 15 rebounds to lead the Suns to their fourth straight victory, 94-74 over the Bulls. . . . LeBron James scored 25 points, including seven in a three-minute span of the third quarter, to help the Cavaliers beat the Hawks, 93-79. . . . Ray Allen scored 30 points to help the SuperSonics prolong the Nuggets' early season misery with a 108-88 victory. Denver fell to 1-4. . . . Grant Hill had 17 points and nine rebounds as the Magic handed the Mavericks their first loss of the season, 94-84. . . . Chris Webber had 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 of the Kings' 31 assists in their first win of the season, 108-92 over the Raptors.

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