Hard to believe, but after an 0-13 start the Suns have ridden a
three-guard offense to climb back into the Western Conference
playoff picture. At 33-39 through Sunday, Phoenix stands as the
seventh seed, and general manager Bryan Colangelo is breathing
easier. As part of last year's trade for Hot Rod Williams,
Cleveland can claim Phoenix's first-round pick in the '97 draft
and, if the Suns don't reach the playoffs, get a shot at a
certain Wake Forest center. Says Colangelo: "I'm just hoping we
make it. I don't want to go the rest of my life with Tim Duncan
as my middle name."...

Warriors guard Latrell Sprewell is on pace to reach 2,000 points
and 500 assists. The last player to accomplish that feat in a
single season was Michael Jordan (1989-90). "I've gotten better
at seeing who's open, where the double-team's coming from and
just seeing the whole floor," says Sprewell, now in his fifth

The double-standard for star players reached a new low in New
York's 105-94 victory over Detroit on March 26. Furious over
what he thought was a deliberate elbow by the Pistons' Michael
Curry, Knicks center Patrick Ewing chased Curry to midcourt and
then cocked his fist as if to punch him before teammate John
Starks intervened. Incredibly, the officials let Ewing off the
hook by calling a technical on both players....

By putting the ball in point guard Rod Strickland's hands, coach
Bernie Bickerstaff has put the Bullets back in the playoff hunt.
At week's end Washington had won eight of 10 and trailed
Cleveland by a half game for the final spot in the East. Over
the last five games, Strickland has averaged 12.0 assists. Says
Bickerstaff, "I want [the offense] to go through Rod because I
think Rod can make everyone better." ...

After forward Shawn Kemp failed to make Seattle's flight to
Phoenix, causing him to miss last Saturday's practice, coach
George Karl looked troubled. "Shawn's messing now with his
teammates and their respect and their responsibilities," Karl
said, nodding toward several Sonics. "We cannot win a
championship without daily discipline and daily commitment."
Kemp was fined an undisclosed amount and was told he would not
start the next two games....

Sixers guard Jerry Stackhouse insists his poor shooting (40.7%
through Sunday) has nothing to do with a degenerative eye
disorder. Stackhouse has keratoconus, which causes the cornea to
become cone-shape. It has reduced the vision in his left eye to
20/30, and made it hard for him to find the right fit and
prescription for contacts. "I've had it for a long time,"
Stackhouse says, "and it's never affected me on the court."...

Nuggets VP Allan Bristow is headed to Athens to get a look at
Efthimios Rentzias, the 6'11" Greek center whom Bickerstaff, the
former G.M., made the 23rd choice in the '96 draft. Hobbled by a
sprained foot this season, Rentzias has averaged only 7.1 points
and 6.3 rebounds for PAOK. It seems no one on Denver's staff had
seen Rentzias play before Bickerstaff picked him.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER By failing to show for a team flight, Kemp left the question of his dedication hanging. [Shawn Kemp in game] COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH [Michael Cage] COLOR PHOTO: MAUREEN GRISE [Pineapple]


76ers center Michael Cage has been preaching the gospel of juice
since his salad days at San Diego State. He credits his juice
habit with sustaining him through his run of 645 straight games
(second only to A.C. Green's streak of 882 among active
players). Here are the 35-year-old Cage's favorite recipes.

1 Pineapple Surprise--pineapple and orange juices
2 Cold Buster--pineapple, orange and grapefruit juices
3 Carrot Delight--carrot and apple juices
4 Maintenance Drink--wheat grass juice
5 Popeye's Treat--spinach and apple juice