Saturday , Apr , 03 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Nets clinch division without Kidd and Martin

East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) – Lucious Harris shot a scorching 11-
of-13 for 24 points as the New Jersey Nets knocked off the New York Knicks,
108-83, at the Meadowlands.

Rodney Rogers collected 20 points and seven boards for the Nets, who clinched
their third straight Atlantic Division title with the win and Miami’s loss to
the Pistons on Friday. New Jersey, shooting a season-high 60 percent, also
received 18 points from Richard Jefferson.

“It’s another tremendous achievement,” said Nets head coach Lawrence Frank.
“One-hundred percent of the credit is to the players. I think we all know it’s
hard to continue repeated excellence.”

The Nets picked up the win without the services of their two best players as
Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin once again did not play.

At the other end, the Knicks had just three players in double figures. Stephon
Marbury and Anfernee Hardaway each scored 14 to lead the way, while Tim Thomas
added 13. New York fell into a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference with
Boston, which came out victorious in earlier action against Golden State.

“It was poor execution on our part,” said Knicks head coach Lenny Wilkens.
“We did not play the way we are capable of playing.”

Harris, Kidd’s replacement, scored 13 points in the opening quarter to help
the Nets out to a 28-18 lead with a minute left, but New York countered with
six straight points to pull within four early in the second.

New Jersey answered in a bigger way with 23 of the next 32 points to open up
an 18-point margin, 53-35, with 3:12 to go in the period, before the Knicks
closed out the half with an 8-2 spurt to draw within 55-43 at the break.

Harris topped all scorers with 15 in the first 24 minutes, two more than
Rogers, while Marbury paced the Knicks with nine although he had no assists.

“I just didn’t couldn’t get any assists,” Marbury said. “When the guys don’t
hit any shots, I don’t get any assists and that is that.”

The Knicks got as close as six after a Kurt Thomas jumper made it 69-63 with
5:19 to play in the third frame.

Jefferson netted six points in a row to ignite a 10-0 run in a span of less
than two minutes that closed out the stanza with New Jersey ahead 87-70.

The Nets ran away with from there, holding the Knicks to just nine points in
the first 10 minutes of the final quarter. At that point, New Jersey led
104-79 as New York pretty much threw in the towel and emptied its bench midway
through the period.

“Our defense was the worst I’ve seen in a long time. I didn’t think it was
effort,” added Wilkens. “Once you let a team that good get those kind of
opportunities, they start making shots from everywhere.”