Some significant rules changes will go into effect this season, most noticeably the one shortening the three-point arc and several aimed at curtailing rough play and fighting, which increased last year. Here's a look at the changes:

THREE-POINT LINE: The three-point line has been shortened from its previous distance of 22 feet in the corners extending to 23 feet 9 inches at the top of the key, to a uniform distance of 22 feet all around the basket. Also, players fouled while in the act of shooting a three-point attempt shall get three free throws instead of two.

HAND-CHECKING: Referees have been told to vigorously enforce the hand-checking rule this season. Hand-checking -- in which a defender impedes the dribbler's progress by placing his hand on the offensive player's hip -- will be eliminated from the end line in the backcourt to the opposite foul line. While drastically increasing the number of fouls called early in the season, enforcing the rule should provide offensive players with greater freedom of movement and subsequently, more scoring.

CLEAR-PATH: If a defender grabs an offensive player in the backcourt when he has a clear path to the basket on a breakaway, two foul shots will be awarded. Previously, the rule only applied to fouls made after a player had crossed midcourt.

OTHER RULES: -- Technical fouls have been increased to $500 each; previously, fines were $100 for the first technical foul and $150 for a second. -- Any player escalating a fight by leaving the bench will be automatically suspended for a minimum of one game and fined a maximum of $20,000, in addition to losing 1/82nd of his salary for each game he is suspended. -- Any player who commits two flagrant fouls in one game will be ejected. -- The second or more of back-to-back timeouts when the ball is not inbounded will be limited to 45 seconds.