Yesterday was busy for the Miami Heat, beginning with surgery for center Alonzo Mourning and culminating with last night's 107-103 overtime loss to the visiting New Jersey Nets.

Mourning, injured in Wednesday night's loss at Atlanta, had surgery to repair torn knee and quadriceps tendons in his right leg. He is likely out for the season and perhaps done for his career. He previously has said that this would be his final season.

Mourning's injury was tinged by irony: It came on the fourth anniversary of the kidney transplant that saved his life.

Last night, Vince Carter scored 31 points to lead the Nets.

Dwyane Wade scored 41 for the Heat.

Also yesterday, Miami said it might file a protest with the league, challenging the number of fouls Shaquille O'Neal was charged with Wednesday night. O'Neal fouled out with 51 seconds remaining, but stat sheets after the game showed he had five fouls, not six.

In another game:

* At Cleveland, LeBron James scored 33 points to lead the Cavaliers over the Los Angeles Lakers, 94-90. James added 10 rebounds and five assists. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 21 points.


* New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury was away from the team again, and coach Isiah Thomas wasn't sure when he'd return. Marbury has missed six of the last nine games since his father, Donald, died Dec. 2.

"He's really having a rough time," Thomas said.

Thomas said he did not expect Marbury to travel to tonight's game at Charlotte.

* Chris Webber is expected to play again in the NBA by the first week of January - most likely with the Detroit Pistons, a source told

The 34-year-old Webber signed with the Pistons last January after being waived by the 76ers. He averaged 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 43 games last season but the Pistons did not re-sign him.

* Ex-Celtic Gary Payton, 39, wants to return to play for Boston, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

The report quoted Payton's agent Aaron Goodwin as saying that the point guard wanted to play again for the Celtics.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he hasn't talked to anyone in Celtics management about Payton.

* Rookie guard Rodney Stuckey was cleared to practice and play with the Detroit Pistons, nearly 2 months after undergoing hand surgery. Stuckey broke his left hand in Detroit's final exhibition game in late October. *