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© St. Petersburg Times, published February 18, 2001

Nelson close to return

He never thought he would need all that time away from the game. Don Nelson was told he would need a couple of months to recover from prostate cancer surgery, but he has cut that to seven weeks. Tuesday night, 47 days after surgery, Nelson will be back on the sideline to coach the Mavericks for the first time in 2001.

"The whole thing has been easy, wonderful really," he told the Boston Globe by phone from Maui, Hawaii, where he has been recuperating since the Jan. 4 operation in Utah. He has been walking 5 miles a day, has lost 20 pounds (although some of the weight has crept back), and has enjoyed from afar the success his son, Donnie, has had in his absence.

The Mavericks were 20-12 under Don Nelson and, after Thursday's win over Cleveland, stood at 12-8 under his son. Big Nellie's first game back will be against the Lakers, and he already has plans.

"You remember Shaq called me a clown because of the Hack-A-Shaq I used the last time they were in Dallas," Nelson said. "Well, I might come out with a big red nose to start the game. I know he's got a sense of humor."

Of course, he kept up on the Mavs. He has a satellite dish at his oceanfront home but was unable to get NBA League Pass. But somebody did something, and the games were beamed in.

Was it rewarding to see his son coaching?

"It was," Nelson said. "But it also was tough because they've been without (injured guard Steve) Nash and he is an important part of what we're doing. It's almost unfair not to have him there, but Donnie has done a great job. I knew he was a terrific coach. This gave him a chance to show what he could do."

Late Friday

GRIZZLIES 92, WARRIORS 79: Visiting Vancouver matched a franchise record with its third straight win. The Grizzlies have three three-game winning streaks in their five seasons. Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting for Vancouver, which shot 57 percent in the first half and 52 percent overall.

KINGS 117, NUGGETS 84: Host Sacramento went on a 37-10 run that started in the first quarter and ended in the third and included a 20-0 stretch. After Voshon Lenard hit a three-pointer with 2:21 left in the first quarter to tie it at 31, the Nuggets didn't score again until another three by Lenard with 4:55 left in the half, by which time the Kings led 51-31. Denver tied a franchise low by scoring just seven points on 2-of-20 shooting in the second quarter.


SACRAMENTO: Guard Ruthie Bolton-Holifield had surgery late Friday on her left knee. A team spokesman said she was expected to be ready for the start of training camp.

* * *

TODAY ON CH. 8: Suns at 76ers, 12:30; Jazz at Kings, 3, Lakers at Pacers, 5:30.

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