* The NBA exhibition season got started last night in Mexico City with Utah getting a 90-85 victory over Dallas. Former Tar Heel Ademola Okulaja, with Utah as a free agent signee, got off the Jazz bench for nine minutes to score two points (1-1 FG), grab a rebound and collect an assist.
Antawn Jamison, in his first action with the Mavericks after being traded by Golden State in the offseason, played 27 minutes and contributed 16 points (8-13 FG, 0-6 FT) and three rebounds.
Wake Forest's Josh Howard also played his first game for Dallas, scoring eight points in 18 minutes. N.C. State's Josh Powell is on the Mavs' training camp roster but did not play.
The Jazz play their second exhibition game on Saturday when they host Seattle.
FORTE, LANG RELEASED
* After a couple of days of training camp, Seattle finally got around to putting Joseph Forte on waivers last week. Seattle still has to pick up the tab for the $1.1 million remaining on the final year of Forte's guaranteed contract as a first-round draft choice.
* The Washington Wizards announced last night that Kris Lang was released from the training camp roster. The Wizards also cut Steve Goodrich (Princeton) and Kenny Satterfield (Cincinnati) to reduce their roster to 15. Lang played last season in Poland, helping Anwil Wloclawek to the Polish league title.
THUMB SURGERY FOR SCOTT WILLIAMS
* It did not take long for the injury bug to bite Phoenix center Scott Williams. The 14-year veteran injured his left thumb during Friday night's practice while going for a loose ball and using his hand to break his fall.
Williams had surgery on Saturday and is expected to be out for six weeks, which is two weeks into the regular season. Williams is being counted on by the Suns to provide leadership and experience for a center-by-committee plan that includes Jake Voskuhl, Robert Archibald and Cezary Trybanski.
DOHERTY, CUNNINGHAM ATTEND NBA CAMPS
* Former Tar Heel coach Matt Doherty attended the San Antonio Spurs' practice sessions last week as a guest of Gregg Popovich and P.J. Carlesimo, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
* The Philadelphia Daily News reported that former Tar Heel great Billy Cunningham was a surprise guest at a 76ers workout last Thursday. Cunningham coached the '82-83 Sixers to a title and played for the Sixers' 1966-67 championship team. College coaches Fran Dunphy (Penn) and Billy Hahn (La Salle) were also on hand.
WILL JOHNSON WINS, SCORES 26
* Will Johnson poured in 26 points on Saturday to help Baloncesto Pozuelo (Spain - LEB2) to a 77-69 win over Valencia-Expobar. Johnson had a hot hand shooting 7-11 from the field, including 3-of-5 on three-point shots and going 9-for-9 on free throws. Pozuelo improved to 1-2 on the season.
After three games Johnson has made 7-of-14 three-point attempts (50%), 12 of 15 free throw attempts (80%), and averages of 32.3 minutes, 15 points and 6.3 rebounds.
WALLACE MEETS THE PORTLAND PRESS
* Rasheed Wallace gave the media day crowd an icy stare and some thoughtful responses last week, according to The Oregonian's report on the Trail Blazers media day activities. It was also noted that Wallace taped a promo for "Disco Night" (March 24) that called for him to put on a large, fuzzy wig. That was followed by some laughs with his teammates.
Wallace insisted that he has not changed. "I'm going to still be fiery. I'm going to go out there and let people know what I think," Wallace told local reporters that thought maybe they were seeing a different Wallace than the one that has not hidden his disdain for the local media during his seven seasons in Portland.
Of course, the New York Post on Friday still pondered, "If I'm Rasheed Wallace and about to pocket $17M, I've got to ask myself at some point, "How can I have a full head of hair and always be angry?""
Wallace is due to be a free agent after this season.