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NBA Sunday: 24-second clock

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Charles Barkley objected to teammate Scottie Pippen's whining to the press recently about his role as a Rocket. "That's for the privacy behind closed doors," said Barkley, who has never been reluctant to make his views public. "He shouldn't discuss that. That just gives the idiots in the media something to talk about."

After the Clippers finally won a game, Jay Leno invited them to his late-night talk show. Veteran guard Sherman Douglas declined. "I'm here to win games, not to be laughed or joked about," said Douglas, who obviously had never heard of the Clippers before he signed with them a couple months ago.Douglas also refused to get excited over the Clippers' new arena. "The building ain't going to help," he said. "We need players. A building never scored one point for nobody. You need players and a direction to go."

Rookie Michael Olowokandi is feeling the pressure of being the NBA's top pick on a dismal Clipper team. When a reporter asked an innocuous question recently, the Kandi Man sweetly screamed, "Get out of my face!"

Portland guard Isaiah Rider got a big kick out of genius Dallas coach Don Nelson's ploy of defending him with veteran power forward A.C. Green. "It's the weirdest thing I'd ever seen against me," Rider said after a 30-point effort. "I don't know if it's lack of confidence in Mike (Finley) or what, but it was crazy and it obviously didn't work." (And Rider knows crazy, Nellie.) Truth Hurts Dept.: According to N.Y. Post columnist Peter Vecsey, Rider's recent confrontation with Kings guard Jon Barry (which resulted in a one-game suspension for Rider) occurred because Barry said in a radio interview that Rider had a gangster mentality.

Kings' jumbo Oliver Miller, who reportedly weighed in the neighborhood of 400 pounds (and that's some neighborhood) when he was signed by the Kings, spent time at a St. George weight-reduction spa recently.

Toronto rookie Vince Carter humbly rejects comparisons with fellow Tar Heel Michael Jordan, saying, "I think my game has more flair. My game might be more flamboyant."

Yankee owner George Steinbrenner couldn't understand criticism of the Nets for firing coach John Calipari. "The guy is 3-17," the Boss said. "I heard the guy standing up before the season saying, 'Michael Jordan's retired. The door's open for us.' They're fortunate I'm not involved."

Stephon Marbury is lobbying for Phil Jackson to coach the inexplicably woeful Nets. "I'm his No. 1 fan right now," Marbury said. "He definitely could come in and here and have an impact, just for his presence alone. As a team, we need discipline and guidance, and right now, we have none of that."

Nets guard Kendall Gill didn't appreciate words of encouragement from an opponent after a loss to the lowly Bulls. "It's disappointing when Ron Harper's telling me to keep my head up and the Bulls aren't (bleep)," Gill said. "I thought that was an insult."

Jayson Williams summed up what is wrong with the Nets: "The ball is too big and the rim is too small. Maybe we should use baseballs."

The Pistons weren't too happy with San Antonio's Tim Duncan, who used his fingernails to slice a gash across the back of Bison Dele's right shoulder, then cut Grant Hill under the chin. "He was like Freddy Krueger out there," Hill said.

Rick Fox, for one, isn't convinced the Lakers are finished making gossip-page headlines. "We've been a soap opera act all year," he said. "There's no reason to believe it's over. It's a continuing saga."