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NBA briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 30, 2000

Nuggets boss backs Issel

DENVER -- Owner Stan Kroenke ended his silence on the Nuggets staff, giving an endorsement to coach and president Dan Issel.

"Dan has done a good job," Kroenke said. "I think we have a bunch of good, young players who are getting better. I didn't feel bad about our team. I just felt there were times when people weren't communicating."

Kroenke has had little to say publicly about Issel since completing his purchase of the Nuggets, Avalanche and the Pepsi Center for $450-million in July. The team is 15-15, and at one point disgruntled players skipped a practice.

But Kroenke, who met with the team after that standoff, said he needed time to evaluate the situation.

Kroenke, a St. Louis developer and minority owner of the NFL's St. Louis Rams, said Thursday that he reminded players during that meeting that Issel had brought them to Denver and was their leader.

Issel has three years remaining on his four-year contract. The contracts of assistant coaches have not been renewed, but Kroenke said that did not mean much.

CAVALIERS 97, HAWKS 85: Lamond Murray scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Andre Miller had 19 points as visiting Cleveland snapped a five-game losing streak.

Atlanta lost its second straight after winning four in a row. The Hawks trailed by 12 with 4:59 remaining in the third, and stormed back to take a 76-75 lead on Jason Terry's 18-foot jumper with 9:38 remaining in the game.

Matt Harpring, who started despite missing Thursday's home loss to Milwaukee with a strained left Achilles' tendon, hit a layup that gave the Cavs a final lead.

KNICKS 95, BULLS 68: Latrell Sprewell scored a season-high 32 points on 11-for-17 shooting, Glen Rice added 20 points and Kurt Thomas had 18 as host New York won its third consecutive game.

Ron Mercer's 19 points led the Bulls, who lost for the sixth time in seven games and dropped their fifth straight to the Knicks.

Allan Houston's streak of 258 consecutive games ended when he missed the contest because of a stomach virus. The Knick's streak was the seventh-longest among active players in the NBA.

HEAT 98, WIZARDS 91: Eddie Jones scored 31 points and Tim Hardaway had 25 as host Miami ran its winning streak to four games. Jones, who matched his season-high point total, made four free throws in a row in the final 35 seconds.

Washington, which lost its sixth straight, played without point guard Rod Strickland, who served a one-game suspension for violating several team rules. Filling in for Strickland, Chris Whitney had 16 points and six assists, but injured his right ankle in the closing seconds.

BLAZERS 104, GRIZZLIES 81: Arvydas Sabonis scored a season-high 20 points as host Portland won its fourth straight game. Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 29 points in 36 minutes for the Grizzlies, but did not play in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.

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