<
>

Kidd sets 'em up, and Nets knock down Suns

1/4/2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- While driving his car to the
Meadowlands, Jason Kidd came up with his ideal plan.

"My goal was to beat them without scoring. It's something weird and unheard of, but it was something I wanted to do."

Kidd was at his unselfish best in his first game against his former team, accumulating 11 of his 13 assists before he even scored a point Wednesday night as the New Jersey Nets beat the Phoenix Suns 106-87 Wednesday night.

Repeatedly setting up teammates for easy baskets and playing the role of the quintessential playmaker, Kidd's passing helped the Nets open a 69-54 lead before he hit a 3-pointer with 4:15 left in the third.

Kidd finished with six points, nine rebounds and four steals for
the Nets, while the player he was traded for -- Stephon Marbury -- never got rolling offensively and finished with 15 points and
seven assists.

"I turned to (assistant coach) Eddie (Jordan) during the game and said it's amazing the way this guy can control and dominate the game and he doesn't have to score," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "You just don't see many guys in this league that are able to do that."

Kerry Kittles scored a season-high 24 points, Kenyon Martin
added 22, Keith Van Horn had 19 and Todd MacCulloch 15 as the Nets
snapped the Suns' five-game winning streak and remained in first
place in the Atlantic Division.

Shawn Marion had 22 to lead the Suns, who never recovered after
a scuffle ignited the Nets late in the second quarter. New Jersey
closed the first half with an 11-2 run and scored the first seven
points of the third to take a 16-point lead.

"I think we've played some games a little better, but this was the best in terms of sustaining it for the whole game," Scott said.

Marbury received a mixed reception from the crowd of 11,452 during player introductions. He spent 2½ seasons with the Nets, never contending for the playoffs.

Scott was quite critical of Marbury in the two days leading up
to the game, repeatedly saying Marbury was not the type of leader
the team needed. Marbury's former teammates candidly admitted that
the team had a chemistry problem during time Marbury was around.

"I like guys like Jason who are positive with their teammates, who try to uplift their teammates. Steph didn't do that. If he did say something to his teammates, nine times out of 10 it was negative or just body language," Scott said.

Marbury was aware of Scott's comments but did not come back with
any bitterness of his own, even saying that Scott's quotes were explainable given all the losing the Nets experienced last season. Marbury gave Scott a handshake and Jordan a hug before the opening tip.

"They are a playoff team," Marbury said afterward. "They are good enough to make the playoffs."

Kidd, who said he did not sleep the night before the game, wanted to send a message to the Suns' coaching staff and owner Jerry Colangelo, but not to his former teammates, that they made a mistake by trading him.

"It kind of had the feel of a playoff game," Kidd said.

The game was tied at 44 late in the second quarter when Rodney Rogers was called for a flagrant foul against Martin on a breakaway.

"I told the team this is our chance," Kidd said. "This is the time for us to put our foot on their throat. We found some spikes on our shoes and put them even deeper into their throats, and that showed some character."

Martin hit both foul shots and Van Horn hit a jumper after New
Jersey retained possession. Kittles followed with a 3-pointer and
MacCulloch scored the final four points of the half for a 53-46 lead at the break.

MacCulloch scored 21 seconds into the third quarter to give the
Nets a double-digit lead they never surrendered, and the advantage
reached 21 when Kidd hit a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in the
quarter to make it 82-61.

The Suns' starters returned to start the fourth quarter, but
Phoenix got no close than 16 in the final period.

Game notes
Martin and Rogers received double technical fouls on the
play that led to Rogers' flagrant foul. Martin took exception to
the foul and practically wrestled Rogers down to the ground after
being fouled. ... Phoenix guard Tony Delk returned after missing three games with a thigh contusion. He had 10 points in 22 minutes. ... Marbury had won his previous four games against the Nets, all
while playing with Minnesota. Kidd, who entered the league with
Dallas, is 2-7 vs. the Suns. ... The Nets made their only scheduled
appearance on national television as the game was televised on
cable by TNT. ... The Nets are 5-0 when scoring 100 or more points.