Mourning Hoping Medicine Works

Thursday, October 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Alonzo Mourning's absence was noticeable. Brian Grant made it slightly less difficult for the rest of the Miami Heat.

With Mourning remaining in Florida because of a kidney ailment, Grant manned the middle and had a strong debut in his first exhibition game for Miami with 29 points and 11 rebounds in an 88-82 loss to New Jersey.

``I'm hoping for Zo to get healthy for Zo's sake, but when he comes back, we'll take off,'' Grant said.

Mourning expects a final diagnosis and a treatment plan from his doctors by early next week. His teammates are eager to hear whether he will be able to play this season.

``He wants us to feel upbeat for him, not to feel sorry for him,'' teammate Tim Hardaway said. ``Treat him like a man, not like he has an illness.''

A source close to Mourning told The Miami Herald that Mourning believes the condition can be treated with medication, and that a kidney transplant would be a long term possibility only if the ailment doesn't respond to the medication.

Duane Causwell started in Mourning's place against the Nets, but was limited by foul trouble. Grant moved over to center from the power forward spot and performed well.

If Mourning returns, he and Grant will form a double low-post scoring threat that few teams can match — especially in the Eastern Conference.

``When he was at Sacramento, I thought he had that kind of game,'' Miami coach Pat Riley said of Grant, who was acquired in a trade over the summer. ``He played a very limited offensive role in Portland, but I think he can be a great scorer for us.''

Riley also chided the media for reporting unconfirmed details of Mourning's kidney ailment.

The Heat have released no details of the ailment, but there have been news reports that he has a condition similar to the kidney disorder that forced Sean Elliott of the San Antonio Spurs to receive a transplant.

Elliott sat out six months after his transplant and returned to the NBA last season.

``If the press would just respect his wishes, everything will come out when Zo looks at that camera and is sure of everything,'' Riley said. ``I think people, especially writers, should give him that respect after all the years he's been playing this game and just let it happen that way. But it's not happening that way.''