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Concentration is McGrady's foe

By wire services
Published March 14, 2004

Tracy McGrady wanted more than 62 points.

While McGrady was on his way to the most points in a league game since David Robinson's 71 in 1994, McGrady was thinking Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 100 in 1962. He wanted to keep scoring until no record was safe.

But late in the game, McGrady missed 10 of his last 11 shots and four free throws.

He even had one six-minute scoreless stretch.

McGrady said his concentration was shot once he started thinking too big.

"I was at a point where I was thinking about breaking the record and it was messing up my concentration," McGrady said. "Before that I was focused and shooting and doing my normal thing. Then, when somebody around me brought it to my attention that I needed so many points for the record then my concentration got all flared up."

BEST IS MIDWEST: The Midwest Division is the league's strongest in more than 20 years. Last-place Utah had a 34-32 record.

Only three times since the NBA went to a four-division format in 1970-71 has every team in a division won at least half its games. The last time was in 1982-83, when the Washington Bullets finished last in the Atlantic Division with a 42-40 (.512) mark. The entire Midwest Division will not make the playoffs because the Kings and Lakers are sure to come out of the Pacific, leaving one Midwest team out of the mix.

CHILD'S PLAY?: Jamal Mashburn's days with the Hornets might be numbered. The forward is acting rather childish lately, with some suggesting he is faking his recent knee injury to prove a point with coach Tim Floyd.

His antics have reached a point where one New Orleans columnist suggested Mashburn might be traded this offseason.

Mashburn, 31, makes less than the maximum and still is averaging 20 points, so he should draw interest.

The Hornets, moving to the Western Conference next summer, already have size inside and strong perimeter play with Baron Davis, but the team could use a more athletic wing player to match up with Kobe Bryant, Shawn Marion, Peja Stojakovic and some of the others out west.

COSTLY MISTAKE?: Now that Antoine Walker has mouthed off about playing time in Dallas, keep in mind that those who have gotten on Don Nelson's bad side tend to disappear (see: Mashburn, Chris Webber, Oliver Miller, Jim Jackson, Chris Gatling, Robert Pack).

But also keep in mind that at $13.5-million, Walker is the highest-paid Maverick. And at $14.625-million, he'll be the highest-paid Maverick next season.

"I'm not going to be intimidated by somebody yelling or screaming or pouting," Nelson said. "That doesn't affect me."

SPURRING OFFENSE: With his team producing 117- and 113-point games in the absence of Tim Duncan, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he would like to stay more often with a motion offense. Popovich said San Antonio used the approach about 50 percent of the time before Duncan was injured and would like to get that up to 65 or 75 percent now that the center is back. The approach allows the Spurs to more freely use Manu Ginobili at point guard.

BARGAIN BIN: In a time where supersized meals are downsized, when almost everyone is looking to trim the fat from their waistline or bottom line, bargains are appreciated even more. The lowest-paid player who is starting this season? The Cavaliers' Carlos Boozer, who makes $563,679.

SAY YES TO DRUG TEST: Now that the Players Association has expressed its displeasure with Damon Stoudamire's decision to take a drug test for a reporter in Portland, expect the matter to be dropped. The association really doesn't want to be put in the position of condemning a player who wants to prove he's drug-free.

- Information from the Miami Herald, New York Times, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Dallas Morning News was used in this report.

[Last modified March 14, 2004, 01:05:29]

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