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Politics heightens Chinese players entry

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001


DALLAS -- Although the start of Chinese center Wang Zhi Zhi's NBA career is set against a suddenly politicized backdrop, an assistant coach believes Wang will be good for the team, the league and the country.

"It has broken down barriers and I think done a great service for the two countries," assistant coach Donnie Nelson said.

Wang, Dallas' second-round draft pick in 1999, will be on the active roster for Thursday's home game against Atlanta, becoming the first Asian to join the NBA.

His debut comes as China is holding the American crew of a damaged Navy spy plane. The EP-3E Aries II electronic eavesdropping plane made an emergency landing on Hainan island after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet that had shadowed it over the South China Sea.

Chinese immigrants in Dallas said Wang would be great for basketball and the Asian-American community. Wang is expected to sign a two-year contract worth about $800,000 when Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and agent Bill Duffy meet today.

NUGGETS: Nick Van Exel was suspended for Tuesday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers after missing two workouts without contacting team officials. "I've just got to learn to communicate with people," he said.

RAPTORS: Charles Oakley was suspended for Tuesday's game against the 76ers and fined $10,000 for confronting Philadelphia's Tryone Hill and striking him in the head with a ball after the morning shootaround.

TRAIL BLAZERS: Guard Rod Strickland pleaded guilty Monday to driving under the influence of alcohol and was sentenced to 10 days in jail.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Poretz in Washington, D.C., also put Strickland on probation for two years and ordered him to attend substance abuse counseling and pay about $1,000 in fines.

Strickland was arrested Jan. 7 while he was playing for the Wizards.

The league suspended Strickland for Tuesday's game against Denver.

Meanwhile, the team suspended Rasheed Wallace for the game, two days after he broke his league record for technical fouls in a season.

DRAFT: Shot-blocking power forward Eddie Griffin, the Big East rookie of the year, said he will leave Seton Hall to enter the draft.

Tuesday's games

RAPTORS 100, 76ERS 85: Host Toronto handed Philadelphia one of its worst losses of the season. The Raptors, whose biggest lead was 35, have won five of six. Philadelphia has lost five straight road games and seven of 10 overall.

CELTICS 82, HEAT 77: Boston handed host Miami its third loss in four games since Alonzo Mourning's return. Paul Pierce, who had 33 points, scored 14 of Boston's final 20 as the Celtics erased a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit.

Mourning, returning from a kidney disease, had 11 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

HORNETS 103, NETS 88: With his team up by six, Derrick Coleman, returning to the visiting Hornets lineup after missing 20 games with a calf injury, ignited a 13-6 run at the start of the fourth quarter with a three-pointer that came after he missed 3 of 4 free throws.

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