EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The disappointment was clear in Alonzo Mourning's voice when he broke the news to teammate Jason Kidd: He was calling it quits because his life-threatening kidney disease had worsened.
Mourning was not worried about himself. His biggest concern was letting the team down, four months after joining the Nets.
"The big person that he is, he was very soft-spoken," Kidd said Monday, recalling his telephone conversation with Mourning on Sunday night. "He felt that he was maybe letting me down in the sense that he came here to try and win a championship and he came here because of me."
Mourning, 33, will need a transplant soon, and the team said a nationwide search is under way for a prospective donor. A player who epitomized work ethic, Mourning lasted 12 games in his return to the NBA after sitting out last season and large parts of two others because of the ailment, focal glomerulosclerosis. The disease makes the kidney spill protein from blood into the urine. The resulting damage can lead to kidney failure.
The disease was detected in 2000, when Mourning was with the Heat and shortly after the center helped the U.S. team win gold at the Olympics. It was unclear if Mourning might return to the court after a successful transplant or if the Nets would have to pay the seven-time All Star the remainder of a four-year, $22-million contract.
CARTWRIGHT FIRED: Bulls coach Bill Cartwright was fired, a casualty of his team's dismal start (4-10) in a year that was supposed to bring marked improvement and a possible return to the playoffs. Pete Myers will be the interim coach and general manager John Paxson hopes to name a replacement within the next week.
Former Magic coach Doc Rivers has been mentioned as a replacement, but the Chicago native is working as a TV analyst and has said he will not coach again this year. Cartwright was 51-100 since replacing Tim Floyd on Dec. 28, 2001.
CAVALIERS: Forward Ira Newble was suspended one game for a profanity-laced argument with coach Paul Silas after Saturday night's loss to the Hawks. Also, Ricky Davis will miss Wednesday's game at New Orleans. Silas refused to give specifics on why Davis was being punished.
Magic, sans T-Mac, loses
ORLANDO - Jermaine O'Neal had 22 points and 19 rebounds, and the Pacers handed the Magic its 13th straight loss 89-78. Orlando is four losses from tying its franchise-worst skid. That stretch was set in 1991-92, the season before the Magic drafted Shaquille O'Neal. The Magic played without Tracy McGrady, who missed the game because of a 103-degree fever. Juwan Howard, returning to a starting role, scored 17 to lead four Magic players in double figures.
PISTONS 94, HAWKS 89: Chauncey Billups redeemed himself at the free-throw line, making four straight in the final 18.3 seconds for visiting Detroit. Billups missed two free throws with seven seconds remaining Sunday in an 81-80 loss to New Orleans. Against Atlanta, he scored a team-high 24.
KNICKS 94, CELTICS 88: Shandon Anderson scored a season-high 28 for visiting New York, which was playing without its top scorers. Trailing 51-41 at halftime, the Knicks went on a 34-12 run for a 75-63 lead after three quarters. Anderson had 10 points in the quarter, helping make up for the loss of Allan Houston (back) and Keith Van Horn (ankle).