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Mutombo named top defender

Dikembe Mutombo of the Atlanta Hawks, named Tuesday as the Defensive Player of the Year for a record third time, said he wants just two more things.

"Playing in a championship game and winning," he said.

Mutombo ranked second in blocked shots (3.38 per game) and led a defense that finished eighth in points allowed (92.3).

Mutombo received 39 of 116 votes from a panel of sports writers and broadcasters. Gary Payton of Seattle finished second with 37 votes.

Since the NBA began handing out the award in 1983, four other players had won twice: Sidney Moncrief, Mark Eaton, Dennis Rodman and Hakeem Olajuwon.

SONICS-LAKERS: After Seattle's 106-92 victory over Los Angeles on Monday, Shaquille O'Neal lashed out at Sonics coach George Karl.

"I don't understand how a person cries before a series even started," O'Neal said, referring to comments by Karl that the Lakers center was sometimes guilty of throwing elbows and traveling. "He looks like a woman coach sometimes like a woman who coaches and cries all the time. He can't get in my head."

Karl's response Tuesday:

"There's some great women coaches in this game," Karl said. "I'm thinking about wearing an apron (tonight).

HORNETS-BULLS: Anthony Mason, held to six points in the opener, said coach Dave Cowens didn't know his game well enough and that no defense could contain him.

"I don't think he has anything to say about that and I don't either," Cowens said.

HORNETS-BULLS: Anthony Mason, held to six points in the opener, said coach Dave Cowens didn't know his game well enough and that no defense could contain him.

Scottie Pippen, however, says Mason will continue to struggle against Rodman. "Dennis is a much quicker player (than Mutombo, who faced Charlotte in the first round)," Pippen said. "He can play (Mason) off the dribble."

WIZARDS: Washington has made re-signing free-agent-to-be point guard Rod Strickland its No. 1 priority, but the Washington Post reported that the Houston Rockets will mount a serious challenge. The Post also reported that Juwan Howard and Chris Webber may be made available for trade.

SIXERS: Forward/center Theo Ratliff, 25, will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Ratliff, 25, has a condition in his knee known as synovitis, an inflammation of the lining of the joint. It bothered him for the last third of the season.

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