Monday , Apr , 26 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Nets sweep Hudson River rivals

New York, NY (Sports Network) – Kenyon Martin poured in a playoff career-high
36 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, as the New Jersey Nets swept the New York
Knicks with a 100-94 victory in Game 4 in their Eastern Conference
quarterfinal series at Madison Square Garden.

Jason Kidd contributed 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the
second-seeded Nets, who won the best-of-seven set 4-0 and will next play
either Detroit or Milwaukee in the conference semifinals.

“With all the talk throughout the year, that they were going to catch us, that
they were the better team, that they wanted to play us in the playoffs,
sometimes it’s fool’s gold,” Kidd said. “Sometimes you wish for something you
don’t want.”

Richard Jefferson contributed 13 points and Kerry Kittles added 10 for New
Jersey, which has won 14 straight playoff games against Eastern Conference
opponents dating back to last year.

“We are a lot more experienced and a lot more mature when it comes to playoff
basketball,” said Martin, who has helped lead the Nets to the NBA Finals in
each of the last two seasons.

Stephon Marbury scored 31 points and Anfernee Hardaway added 17 for the
seventh-seeded Knicks, who lost in the first round of the playoffs for the
first time since the club fell in five games to Toronto in the 2001 post-
season.

“The way (New Jersey head coach Lawrence Frank) prepared them to play us is
the perfect way,” Marbury said. “Whatever it took to get the ball out of my
hands.”

Kurt Thomas chipped in 14 points and 15 boards in the loss.

New York played without forward Tim Thomas, who missed the game with back
spasms. Thomas sat out his third straight playoff game after he injured the
back on a flagrant foul by Nets center Jason Collins in Game 1.

New Jersey made 47 percent of its shots (34-of-73) and hit 31-of-41 from the
foul line (76 percent). New York connected on 42 percent of its field goal
attempts (33-of-79) and 22-of-30 from the charity stripe (73 percent).

The Knicks trailed 69-68 after three periods, but an 8-0 run early in the
fourth, culminated by Frank Williams’ three, put them in front 85-79 with 6:50
remaining in the game.

However, New Jersey countered with a 7-0 surge of its own as Martin’s basket
with 5:08 left gave the Nets a one-point advantage. The Nets widened the gap
to 92-89 on Aaron Williams’ runner with 2:46 remaining and after Marbury
missed a long jumper, Kittles was fouled driving toward the basket.

Kittles made 1-of-2 for a four-point lead with 2:06 left and New York again
missed a chance to get closer. Martin was then fouled on the ensuing
possession and he made one for a 94-89 advantage.

Martin ended 13-of-19 from the floor and 10-of-13 from the foul line.

“I just came out and tried to be aggressive,” Martin said. “The series was on
the line and good players step up.”

Thomas brought the Knicks within four as he made one foul shot with 52 seconds
remaining and New York then made a defensive stop as Kidd missed a jumper in
the lane. Marbury was then fouled driving to the basket at the other end and
he netted both free throws to trim the Knicks’ deficit to 94-92 with 19
seconds left.

Kidd was quickly fouled and he hit both from the line to restore the four-
point lead. After a timeout, Nazr Mohammed got an uncontested dunk to close
the gap to 96-94, but Nets forward Lucious Harris was quickly fouled and
knocked down a pair from the line with 13.3 seconds remaining.

Marbury then missed a three-pointer with 6.9 seconds left and Harris made two
free throws to seal the win.

“I thought the shot was a little too quick,” said New York head coach Lenny
Wilkens. “We have to learn to be smarter.”

The Nets led by four points early on, but New York used a 7-0 run, keyed by
three from Thomas, to take an 11-8 advantage. Martin’s three-point play
moments later tied the game and the teams remained deadlocked at 21-21 after
one period.

In the second quarter, the Knicks pulled ahead 38-33 on a pair of free throws
by Thomas with 4:16 remaining in the half. New York maintained a five-point
lead at 45-40 later in the period, but the Nets ended the stanza by scoring
four of the final five points, and trailed 46-44 at halftime.

Marbury and Thomas each scored 13 points in the first half, as the Knicks hit
on 42 percent of their shots (16-of-38). Martin had 13 points to pace New
Jersey, which made 18-of-39 attempts (46 percent).

New York led 50-46 early in the third quarter, but the Nets then used a 12-1
spurt. During the run, Martin and Jefferson each scored four points and
Kittles added a three-pointer to put New Jersey ahead 58-51 with 6 1/2 minutes
left in the frame.

The Knicks, though, would not go away.

After each team scored a basket, New York reeled off 13 of the next 15 points,
culminated by Marbury’s jumper with 2:12 left in the quarter, to claim a 66-62
lead. The Nets then ended the stanza on a 7-2 run, capped by Martin’s tip-in
with under a second left, to make it 69-68 three periods.

The Nets started their streak by winning the final two games of their 2003
playoff series against Milwaukee, then swept both Boston and Detroit. New
Jersey swept a team for the third time and has never lost a Game 4 with a 3-0
series lead.

New York has been swept in a seven-game series three times in its history as
it also achieved the dubious feat in the 1978 and 1983 playoffs, both times
against Philadelphia.

NJ NY