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Cavs coach John Lucas loves his point guard, ex-Ute Andre Miller. "He has a chance at what I call 'rare air,'" Lucas said. "He has no clue he can be that good. He's just boppin' along. He's got to shoot 1,000 shots a day in the summer. He's got to extend his range to the three-point line. He's right there behind (Jason) Kidd."

More Lucas: "If I didn't have a drug problem, I would have been the best point guard to play." What about Magic Johnson? "Magic was a freak of nature. He wasn't a point guard."

Houston's Walt Williams, after the Rockets ended a 15-game losing streak: "I never won a championship. It must be a feeling close to this."

George Karl of the Bucks, talking in terms Glenn Robinson could understand: "I talked to him about a month ago. I was angry with him. I said, 'Dog, this stuff we can work it out. But the way we work it out, you've got to become the horse that you're capable of being. I need a horse to ride.' And I think that's what 'Dog' has done the last week or so. He's a horse. And it's fun coaching when you've got horses out there."

Portland's Ruben Patterson objected to a dunk by Suns' Shawn Marion late in a Phoenix win. "We all saw that," Patterson said. "We'll all remember that. Next time he tries to dunk against us, somebody will put him on his head." Next meeting: Jan. 16.

Philly's Larry Brown was asked if he'd be interested in the Nuggets' coaching job. "I coached Kiki (Vandeweghe, Denver GM) at UCLA, and he was with me at the Clippers," Brown said. "He's always been one of my favorite people . . . I played in Denver. I had great years coaching there. I loved living there. But, the bottom line is . . . I have a great job." Yes, in case you missed it.

Dallas' Eduardo Najera, the NBA's only Mexican-born player, was understanding about Dan Issel's racial slur. "When you get mad, you do some things you regret," Najera said. "I could have done something similar. As humans, we make mistakes."

After some injury-plagued seasons, Suns' Penny Hardaway can relate to Grant Hill's physical travails. "I haven't talked to him this year, but I called him last year and said, 'Don't give up. You'll still be able to play at a high level,"' Hardaway said. "He still has his talent. It's God-given, just like mine."

Coach Isiah Thomas is finding it tough to get Pacer players to buy into a philosophy that stats don't mean anything if you don't win. "With today's players winning is not enough," he said. "It's got to be winning-plus . . . Because today's players come into the league with endorsement deals and publicity before they've done anything, they think there's something higher than winning."

Coaches leaguewide expressed sympathy for Tim Floyd after he walked away from the Bulls job. "Tim Floyd was in an impossible situation," Orlando's Doc Rivers said. "He didn't do anything wrong — maybe taking the job."

Asked when Hill would return, Rivers said, "I really don't know. You're asking the wrong guy. Once again, let me remind you about my nickname—I only play a doctor on TV."

Timberwolves' GM Kevin McHale on the pump-fake: "If guys think you're going to make your shot, they'll jump. If they don't think you can make shots, they ain't jumping. (Jim) McIlvaine can pump fake until the cows come home and no one's going to jump."

Miami coach Pat Riley continues to be the loudest opponent of the new defensive rules. "I think it's the biggest mistake ever . . . to allow a zone," he said. "When you allow people to just stand in areas in this game and bring great players to a stop and have to attack zones, then I think you've taken away a lot."

Some players think Heat center Alonzo Mourning is getting calls from referees sympathetic to his illness. "'They allow him to get away with stuff because they want Alonzo out there to win the ball game," Cavs Lamond Murray said.

Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas on his repaired left foot, "It feels as good as it can for having seven screws in it."

Celtics GM Chris Wallace said this when he found there were no programs for a high school game featuring a prospect he was scouting: "If we don't know who he is without a program, then we don't need to know who he is."

Some Grizzlies think point guard Jason Williams' passes make them look bad. "I just tell the guys that I see them open at all times," Williams said. "Just be ready for the ball." When Williams fired a pass through the hands of rookie Pau Gasol, coach Sidney Lowe told Williams the pass was too hard. "I'm not passing him the ball anymore," Williams responded.


Compiled by Rich Evans from Internet and wire-service reports