Lakers' shot on Ceballos hits nothing but net RTC

ON THE NBA

January 10, 1995|By JERRY BEMBRY

When the Phoenix Suns, a team heavy in forwards, began to shop Cedric Ceballos during the off-season, coach Paul Westphal was surprised at the response.

Or lack of response. The Suns eventually dealt Ceballos to the Los Angeles Lakers for a mid-first-round pick.

"The Lakers were the only team to offer even that much," Westphal said. "The other teams were too stupid to give us a first-round pick."

And the other teams have to be kicking themselves with the way Ceballos is playing this season for the Lakers. After a stint in Phoenix, where none of the offense was directed toward him, Ceballos ranks ninth in the league in scoring with a 23.0-point average.

In December, Ceballos averaged 27.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and shot 53 percent to earn Player of the Month honors.

Playing his final game of 1994 in Phoenix on Dec. 30, Ceballos scored 37 and helped the Lakers end the Suns' 25-game home win streak.

"This was emotional for me, so I really wanted to play well," said Ceballos, who was in Phoenix for the first 11 victories of the streak. "I started some of those wins, so it was a nice homecoming for me."

Now Westphal wishes Ceballos had gone east. "We would have rather sent him someplace where we wouldn't have to play against him all the time," he said.

Paying his dues

You're an NBA player and you make millions. So New Year's Eve rolls around and you get your choice of extravagant parties where you can rub elbows with the rich and famous, right?

Wrong, if you're Minnesota Timberwolves guard Isaiah Rider, who spent the days approaching the new year washing bedpans, among other things, as he completed a community service requirement so that he could avoid going to jail.

Rider was sentenced to 35 hours of community service at the Mission Care Detox Center in Plymouth, Minn., resulting from an incident last March where he allegedly kicked a woman who managed a sports bar at the Mall of America. For every hour he did not complete by the end of 1994, Rider would have to spend a day in jail. So Rider had to hustle to avoid donning a different uniform.

His chores: dusting, mopping, cleaning heat vents, answering phones, and cleaning bedpans.

"I definitely feel I've gotten a lot of weight off my shoulders," Rider said. "This became more important than basketball."

Tapping into Miller time

Here's a case of believe-it-or-not in the free-wheeling NBA: coaches getting on players for not shooting enough.

Indiana Pacers coach Larry Brown wants Reggie Miller, who had a monstrous postseason last year, to do exactly that. Many expected superstardom from Miller, who followed his 25-point fourth quarter against the New York Knicks in last year's playoffs with a solid effort for Dream Team II.

Although Miller is averaging a team-best 19.8 points per game, he's taking just 13.3 shots. His 400 field-goal attempts are fewer than any player in the top 20 in scoring (Miller is 20th).

"He's simply the best shooter in the league and he has to shoot the ball and make everybody better, which is what all great players do," Brown said. "Reggie had the curse of maybe the greatest game or the greatest 12 minutes you could ever imagine."

Miller said he's not going to change his style.

"I'm not going to take 25 shots a game. I come out aggressive, but I have to see how the game's going and how they're playing me," Miller said. "I'm not going to force things."

Miami Heat coach Kevin Loughery also has given a shoot-or-else ultimatum to his starting shooting guard Billy Owens and backup point guard Khalid Reeves. Reeves, a rookie, was pulled out of a game against the Charlotte Hornets for taking just three shots.

"It's hard to get right into a rhythm, get right on the court and start shooting," Reeves said. "It's hard to just shoot the ball every time. It's hard getting out there and just jacking the ball up."

Around the league

New Jersey Nets forward Derrick Coleman, commenting on teammate Kenny Anderson missing practice: "Everybody misses practice." Reminded that Anderson is a highly paid team leader, Coleman replied "Whoop-de-damn-do." . . . Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson returned to the sidelines last week, after a bout with viral pneumonia. "I don't have enough energy," Nelson said. "It's hard for me to stand up through a whole practice." . . . John Salley figured he'd be a starter with the Heat, but so far this season has been replaced by Grant Long at power forward and Matt Geiger at center. "I haven't found my niche," said Salley, who scored 19 points -- 12 over his average -- in Sunday's loss to the Lakers.

Quotes of the week

From Los Angeles Clippers coach Bill Fitch, after Heat forward Brad Lohaus made six straight three-pointers, going six-of-seven from beyond the arc:

"He's Larry Bird's son's godfather."

And the Suns' Danny Schayes, when asked whether he was excited about playing against his former team, the Lakers:

"If I worried about all my former teams, I'd never sleep."

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