Michael Jordan or Karl Malone? Only time may tell who will win this season's NBA MVP award. In the meantime, don't ask Jordan about the race. "That's the least thing I am worried about," he said. "I am just going to go out and play my game. My game has been consistent throughout the years. I think the focus has been a little more so because of the teams we have faced and may have to face in the playoffs." . . . The University of Houston reportedly wants Rockets guard Clyde Drexler as its next men's basketball coach . . . Bulls forward Dennis Rodman recently called Heat center Alonzo Mourning "a $17 million punk" . . . Sonics coach George Karl estimates it will take 60 wins to claim the best record in the Western Conference . . . No one in New York is dismissing the possibility that center Patrick Ewing, who suffered a severe wrist injury earlier this season, may return to the Knicks by playoff time . . . Hours after the Orlando Magic placed Penny Hardaway on the injured list indefinitely, the guard released his own declaration that he was finished for the season. Hardaway, who has been slowed by knee surgery and a strained calf muscle, said he'll be back when he's 100 percent . . . Karl was less than complimentary when asked if former Nuggets center George Zidek, who was recently signed to a 10-day contract, would see much action for Seattle. "If the Lakers concede the Pacific Division and if Utah concedes us the best record and if Chicago allows us to have homecourt advantage," Karl said, "he'll probably play some." . . . Benoit Benjamin is back in the NBA. The well-traveled big man joined the 76ers on a 10-day contract Wednesday. He was playing for Yakima of the CBA . . . With speculation mounting that Nuggets coach Bill Hanzlik may be history at season's end, several Denver veterans have come to his defense. Bryant Stith and Dean Garrett have gone public with their hopes that Hanzlik is retained . . . Coming soon to a media outlet near you: Latrell Sprewell. The suspended Warrior is making the rounds now that his arbitration case has been settled . . . Jail Blazers knucklehead Isaiah Rider promised folks he'd have a "very, very, very big game" Wednesday against Minnesota. Portland prevailed 95-92, but the former UNLV star had a less-than-enjoyable 27th birthday. He made just 5 of 18 shots from the field and was booed by fans at the Rose Garden . . . The NBA's decision to move the 3-point arc back has yet to open up the game and increase scoring as hoped. Teams are averaging just 95.4 points this season, the lowest since 1954-55.