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NBA Today

April 3, 1997

Detroit at Atlanta (7:30 p.m. EST). The Hawks and Pistons fight for the fourth seed in the playoffs and a shot a putting off a potential matchup against Chicago until the Eastern Conference Finals.

STARS

Wednesday

_ Doug Christie, Raptors, had 29 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and eight steals in Toronto’s 112-90 victory over Philadelphia.

_ Kevin Johnson, Suns, had 30 points and 11 assists as Phoenix defeated the Houston Rockets 109-96.

_ Glen Rice, Hornets, despite battling the flu, scored 38 points to lead Charlotte to a 95-84 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

_ Stephon Marbury, Timberwolves, made six of his first seven 3-point attempts en route to 21 points as Minnesota defeated the New Jersey Nets 94-89.

SIGNINGS

The Chicago Bulls signed center Brian Williams for the rest of the season Wednesday. Williams, who opted out of a $2.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers this season and became a free agent, will replace the injured Bill Wennington on the Chicago roster.

STRONG BACKCOURTS

The starting backcourts in Wednesday’s Toronto-Philadelphia game (Doug Christie, Damon Stoudamire, Jerry Stackhouse and Allen Iverson) combined for 110 points, 34 assists and 27 rebounds.

SIZZLING

Utah won its 10th straight game Wednesday, defeating the Sacramento Kings in a 118-87 rout. The Jazz lead the game at halftime by the score of 67-28.

SPREADING INJURIES

Boston, which has lost an NBA record 404 man-games to injury this season, were even without their public address announcer Wednesday. Public relations director Jeff Twiss had to fill in.

SUPER RETURN

Robert Horry returned to the Lakers lineup Wednesday with seven points, eight rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots in only 20 minutes. Los Angeles defeated Denver 110-85.

SEEING TRIPLE _ AGAIN

Grant Hill had his ninth triple-double of the season Wednesday in a 99-92 victory at San Antonio. Hill scored 31 points, grabbed 11 boards and dished out 10 assists.

SHOWBOATING

Lawrence Cameron, a Charlotte resident, failed in an attempt Wednesday to hit a halfcourt shot for $240,000 during the Hornets’ game against Atlanta. Vlade Divac, however, left the Charlotte huddle before the start of the fourth quarter and showed Cameron how to do it, cooly banking in the shot.

SHIFTY RACE

Cleveland defeated Boston 96-87 Thursday to go a half a game up on the Washington Bullets for the final Eastern Conference playoff seed. Only two games separate the third through fifth seeds in the East, and just one game separates the second through fourth seeds in the West.

SETTING A MARK

Kevin Johnson became the fourth player to score 12,000 points in a Suns uniform when he scored a 3-pointer in the first quarter of Phoenix’s 109-96 win against Houston. Johnson joined Walter Davis, Alvan Adams and Dick Van Arsdale in the select club.

SUPERB IN DEFEAT

Jerry Stackhouse had 36 points, two shy of his career high, as Philadelphia’s second three-game winning streak of the season came to an end in a 112-90 defeat to Toronto.

SIR CHARLES

Charles Barkley was a surprise starter in Houston’s 109-96 loss at Phoenix. Barkley, who played for the first time since suffering a hip injury March 1, grabbed 16 rebounds but missed 12 of 14 shots from the field. He finished with six points in 26 minutes.

SERIOUSLY DEPLETED

The Lakers, who have won five straight games and 10 of their last 13, played without Shaquille O’Neal, Elden Campbell and rookie reserve Travis Knight but still managed to defeat Denver 110-85 Wednesday.

SPEAKING

``Our goal is to win an NBA championship and we have to get our players healthy for the run. I’ve got three weeks to get back in shape and work on my shot. If I can get 16 rebounds a night a make a few shots here and there, we’ll be fine.″ _ Charles Barkley, who returned to the Houston lineup for the first time since March 1. Barkley grabbed 16 rebounds, but shot only 2-of-14 from the field.

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