Saturday , Apr , 17 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Nets take first in Battle of the Hudson

East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) – Richard Jefferson scored 21 points and
Kerry Kittles added 20 to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 107-83 win over the
New York Knicks in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at
the Meadowlands.

Jason Kidd won the battle of the point guards, scoring 14 points and dishing
out 13 assists for the Nets, who have won 11 straight Eastern Conference
playoff games.

“There was no message sent,” said Kidd. “It was just a matter of us trying to
protect home court. We did half our job and that was to protect game one.”

Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday at the Meadowlands.

Stephon Marbury struggled for the Knicks, recording 13 points and only two
assists, as New York was making its first playoff appearance in two years.
Marbury shot 6-of-14 from the field, but didn’t score in the second half,
which is when the Nets put the game out of reach.

After a Brian Scalabrine’s buzzer-beater gave the Nets a 62-55 halftime lead,
New Jersey began the third quarter with a 9-0 run to open up a 16-point
cushion. Kidd’s three-pointer with 6:54 left capped the spurt, giving his club
a 71-55 advantage.

The basket actually ended a 21-6 burst that bridged the first and second
halves for the Nets. The Knicks had drawn within 50-49 on two Nazr Mohammed
free throws with 3:15 left in the first.

The Nets later opened up an 18-point lead, 82-64, in the third when Aaron
Williams finished off a three-point play with 1:31 remaining.

“It started with our defense,” Nets coach Lawrence Frank said regarding the
quick start to the third. “Our ability to get stops with our speed and
quickness allowed us to get into transition and obviously that is our greatest
strength on the offensive end.”

New York collapsed in the third quarter, going the first 6:18 without a basket
and finishing the stanza with only 13 points. Mike Sweetney’s three-point play
with 5:39 left ended the scoring drought for the Knicks, who shot only 3-of-18
in the stanza and turned the ball over five times.

The tough times continued in the fourth for New York, as the Nets extended
their lead to 20 points early on. Consecutive baskets by Kenyon Martin
extended the lead to 90-70 just 3:22 into the quarter.

Jefferson later gave the Nets their largest lead, 101-77, with a dunk with
3:09 left and New Jersey cruised to the finish.

Martin finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets, who used a strong
transition game to outlast New York. The Nets outscored the Knicks 28-4 on
the break, shooting 50-percent from the field.

Anfernee Hardaway scored 18 points off the bench to lead the Knicks. Mohammed
tallied 16 points and seven boards.

“This group has only been together a short time, but I think they played smart
basketball in the first half,” said New York head coach Lenny Wilkens of his
team. “In the third quarter we let the game get away. We got anxious a couple
of times, took quick shots and turned the ball over a few times. You can’t do
that. The Nets are too good.”