Basketball

Heat honour Mourning, lose to Magic

On the night the Miami Heat retired Alonzo Mourning's No. 33, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic played like him.

On the night the Miami Heat retired centre Alonzo Mourning's No. 33, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic played like him.

Howard poured in 22 points and pulled down 18 rebounds as the visiting Magic prevailed 101-95 over the Heat on Monday night.

Howard, 23, grabbed the 5,000th rebound of his pro career, surpassing the late Wilt Chamberlain as the youngest player in NBA history to accomplish the feat.

Chamberlain was 25 years old when he reached 5,000 career rebounds.

"I was getting a bit teary eyed watching the [retirement] ceremony," Howard said.

"It was a little long, especially when we'd been told 24 minutes," Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said of the 42-minute tribute to Mourning at intermission.   

"Competitively, they sat for 42 minutes … [but] I think it is fitting that he is the first Heat player that goes up there."

Rashard Lewis scored 21 points for Orlando, including a three-point basket that put Orlando ahead with 1:32 left.

Hedo Turkoglu tallied 16 points, Rafer Alston had 13 points and Courtney Lee finished with 10 points as the Magic (55-18) retained their hold on second place in the Eastern Conference by percentage points over the Boston Celtics.

"It wasn't the prettiest game," Lewis said. "But we were able to stick around and get the win at the end."

Dwyane Wade led all scorers with 42 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, for the fifth-seeded Heat (39-35), who sit one game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers in the conference standings.

Mario Chalmers had 13 points and seven assists, while Jermaine O'Neal had 10 points in a losing cause.

Reserve point guard Luther Head suffered a broken left hand and will be shelved for four to six weeks.

"It means other guys will have to step up more," Wade said. "I'm fine having the ball in my hands more."

Miami has lost 12 of its last 13 tilts with Orlando.

"Still a great night for the franchise and Alonzo," Heat rookie head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It was a special night."

Obama salutes Mourning

At halftime, the Heat paid tribute to Mourning in a stirring 43-minute ceremony highlighted by the reading of a letter from U.S. President Barack Obama, plus speeches from the likes of Heat president Pat Riley, Mourning's collegiate coach John Thompson and fellow Georgetown alumnus Patrick Ewing.

"I wanted to let you know how proud we all are of your extraordinary career," Obama wrote. "But also the way you have given back to the community all these years.

"You have been and will continue to be a great leader. God bless you and your family."

"I saw a guy outside taking bets if I was going to cry or not," Mourning told the capacity crowd of 19,600 on hand at the American Airlines Arena.

"So you all can collect your money because I know you all bet against me. I just want to say that I'm truly humbled and honoured to be the first in franchise history to have his number retired."

Had kidney transplant

Mourning, 39, spent 10 of his 15 NBA seasons with the Heat, and remains the franchise leader in games played (568), points (9,310), rebounds (4,714), blocked shots (1,583) and minutes played (17,311).

Mourning was diagnosed with a degenerative kidney disease in 2000 and had a transplant on Dec. 19, 2003, at which time he was told he would likely never play pro basketball again.

But he defied the odds and returned to help Miami win it all in 2006.

"Just eight short years ago, eight short years ago, I didn't envision this moment happening," Mourning said. "This is probably one of the greatest moments of my life, and I'm honoured to be here this evening."

Property of Raptors

Mourning averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocked shots, 1.1 assists and 31.0 minutes in 837 games (686 starts) over 15 NBA seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, New Jersey Nets and Heat.

Mourning was acquired by the Toronto Raptors from the Nets, along with Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and two first-round picks, for superstar Vince Carter on Dec. 17, 2004.

But he refused to report to the Raptors and negotiated a buyout on the more than $17 million US still owed him on the four-year, $22.6-million US contract he signed with the Nets on July 16, 2003.

Mourning was drafted second overall out of Georgetown by the Hornets in 1992, and was selected NBA defensive player of the year in 1999 and 2000.

With files from the Associated Press