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L.A. Lakers at Philadelphia (9 p.m. EDT). Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers look to wrap up their second straight NBA title.

SAFETY FIRST

Remembering a mini-riot after last year's championship, the Los Angeles police department recently filmed a public service announcement at Staples Center that urged people to celebrate another possible NBA title by the Lakers loudly and legally. Extra police have kept watch outside the arena during home games, and will be on alert during Game 5 on Friday, which could decide the championship.

SEEKING DEALS

If the Seattle SuperSonics get the right offer, they will be willing to trade All-Star point guard Gary Payton, new general manager Rick Sund said on Thursday. Reiterating what new principal owner Howard Schultz and CEO-president Wally Walker said after the Sonics' disappointing season, Sund said the Sonics were now willing to trade any of their players.

SEVERAL CHOICES

Denver assistant John Lucas has been offered the head coaching job with Cleveland, an NBA management source told The Associated Press on Thursday. Lucas, who is also reported to be a finalist for Portland's coaching vacancy, has begun contract negotiations with the Cavs. Earlier this week, Lucas met with Cavs owner Gordon Gund and general manager Jim Paxson. He interviewed for the Trail Blazers' job last week.

START PAYING

Charlotte forward Lee Nailon was ordered by a judge on Thursday to start paying a South Bend woman $325 a week in child support. St. Joseph Circuit Court Magistrate Harold Brueseke earlier had denied Nailon's request to set aside the default judgment entered against him when he failed to show up for a previous court appearance. Brueseke determined Wednesday that Nailon, a former Indiana high school basketball standout, had been properly notified that he was required to attend the court appearance involving a 6-year-old girl.

SWAP

Charlotte traded its second-round draft pick to the Chicago Bulls for the rights to center Roberto Duenas on Thursday. The Bulls, who got the 45th pick from Charlotte, drafted the 7-foot-3 Duenas in 1997. Duenas, from Spain, played 44 games last season for F.C. Barcelona in the EuroLeague and the Association of Clubes de Baloncesto, averaging 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.

SPEAKING

``We know it's like mission impossible.''_ Philadelphia's Allen Iverson on the 76ers chances of overcoming a 3-1 deficit against Los Angeles in the NBA Finals. No team has ever accomplished the feat in the finals.