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Heat routs Pistons to stay in first place

The Heat still is a first-place team, and it played like one Monday.

With its 11-week stay atop the Atlantic Division at stake, the Heat responded by routing the slumping Detroit Pistons 104-82.

Jamal Mashburn had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists to lead the Heat, whose starters enjoyed a short night. Miami shot 56 percent.

With a loss, the Heat would have fallen out of first place for the first time since Nov. 10. Instead it took a half-game lead over the Knicks.

Miami has won only 12 of its past 24 games.

"We need a springboard game," forward P.J. Brown said. "Hopefully this will be the one. We're not a .500 team, but we've been playing .500 ball. We need to change that."

Detroit's Grant Hill sat out with a bruised hip that has forced him to miss three games. His status remains day-to-day.

The Pistons have lost seven of their past eight games, including six straight on the road.

Miami's Alonzo Mourning scored 20 points, reaching the milestone for the 10th consecutive game to break the team record he shared with Glen Rice.

Miami held the NBA's second-ranked offensive team to 37 percent shooting. Jerry Stackhouse had 17 points for Detroit but only seven after the first quarter.

BULLS: Chris Carr, who worked under two 10-day contracts, signed with the team for the rest of the season. In his past five games, Carr averaged 13.4 points.

CAVALIERS: The team signed veteran forward Pete Chilcutt to a 10-day contract. Chilcutt, 31, has appeared in 29 games this season _ 26 for the Jazz and three for the Clippers.

HAWKS: Center Dikembe Mutombo is the league's player of the week after averaging 19.7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in three games.

MAVERICKS: Derek Harper, the team's all-time leader in assists, steals and three-pointers, officially ended his playing career and started his front-office career as the team's vice president of business relations. He finished his career with the Lakers, although they traded his rights to the Pistons in the off-season. Harper, 38, never reported and was placed on the suspended list.

The team still was waiting to hear whether Dennis Rodman was ready to return to the league. Neither Rodman's agent, Steve Chasman, nor his publicist returned phone calls to the Associated Press.

WARRIORS: Dave Cowens, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and former coach of the Celtics and Hornets, joined the team as an assistant. The team signed guard Sam Jacobson for the rest of the season.

DICKERSON ON TEAM: Grizzlies guard Michael Dickerson will replace Toronto's Vince Carter on the 1999 rookie team roster for the Rookie Challenge on Feb. 12 in Oakland, Calif. Dickerson is replacing Carter because the Raptors' star has been chosen to start for the East in the All-Star game.

GRANIK'S PACT EXTENDED: Deputy commissioner Russ Granik signed a six-year contract extension, making him the likely heir to the league's top position, Bloomberg News reported. Granik, 51, joined the NBA in 1976 as a staff attorney, and since has played an integral role in the league's development. He's participated in every major negotiation since 1980, including the recent round of collective bargaining with the players union. Commissioner David Stern declined to discuss the extension, but said at the appropriate time that he'd recommend to the Board of Governors that Granik be the next commissioner. "In my view, Russ is my successor," said Stern, 57, who has no plans to retire.

LAKERS: A two-alarm fire forced the team to evacuate its hotel. Firefighters put out a small fire that started in the basement of La Mansion Del Rio Hotel, along the San Antonio Riverwalk. The Lakers were staying there before tonight's game against the Spurs. No injuries were reported.

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