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East's best just too quick for West leaders

2/7/2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- No matter how Byron Scott tried to
modify it, the Kings-Nets game was best described with one word.

"It was a little 'Wow,"' Scott said after the New Jersey Nets
dealt the Sacramento Kings their worst loss of the season Monday
night, 117-83 in a matchup of the top teams from the Eastern and
Western Conferences.

"I was a little surprised we were beating them like we were
beating them, but our guys were really in tune tonight, they wanted
to play really well against the team that has the best record in
the league," Scott said.

The loss was just the second in the last 19 games for
Sacramento, which still owns the NBA's best record (36-11). But the
Kings aren't separating themselves from the pack in the West like
the Nets (32-14) are in the East, where their nearest pursuer is
now 4 1/2 games behind.

Jason Kidd had 14 points, seven assists and seven rebounds,
Keith Van Horn broke out of a scoring slump with 25 points and Todd
MacCulloch outplayed Vlade Divac at the center position, scoring 10
points and grabbing six rebounds.

Lucious Harris added 17 points and Kenyon Martin had 15.

New Jersey led by as many as 36 in winning its eighth straight
home game.

"Everybody is still doubting what we're made of anyway, people
don't understand that we do have a good basketball team," Scott
said. "They'll have a big wow."

One third quarter sequence illustrated how the Nets were the
faster and sharper team.

After Sacramento committed a turnover, Kidd took the ball on the
sideline and caught the Kings napping, firing a 70-foot baseball
pass to Van Horn for a layup. Two seconds later, Kerry Kittles
picked off Chris Webber's inbounds pass and calmly sank a
3-pointer.

"That play and Kerry's 3-pointer was a statement right there,"
Van Horn said. "That really blew the game open for us."

The five-point sequence came as part of a 25-8 run to open the
third quarter as the Nets turned a 57-54 halftime advantage into an
82-62 lead. The Kings, playing the second half of a back-to-back
set, never threatened the rest of the way and had their five-game
winning streak snapped.

Sacramento had its lowest point total of the season while being
held 21.9 points below its league-leading average of 104.9.

Webber had 23 points for the Kings, whose three-game road
winning streak also came to an end. Sacramento is now 9-5 on the
second night of back-to-backs, with four of the losses coming by
lopsided margins.

"I think we played a very good team, the best team in the East
so far, and we were a step slow and a step behind in everything we
did," Kings coach Rick Adelman said.

The Nets have shown a tendency to rally early in the third
quarter at home, which is exactly what they did again after holding
a five-point halftime lead.

Kittles converted a fast-break layup less than four minutes into
the quarter to complete a 10-2 run that gave the Nets a 67-56 lead.
After Webber hit consecutive shots, Van Horn hit a 3 to restore a
10-point lead and Martin took a behind-the-back pass from Kidd and
turned it into a three-point play.

After Kidd hit a pair of free throws to make it 75-60, he
started the decisive sequence with his diagonal overhand pass to
Van Horn.

"He has vision. Sometimes the rest of the world has bifocals
and he has X-ray," Kings forward Scot Pollard said.

Sacramento never rallied in the fourth -- even when Scott went
with a lineup that included three rookies -- Richard Jefferson,
Jason Collins and Brian Scalabrine -- early in the quarter.

Game notes
A large contingent of flag-waving Turkish fans attended the
game, cheering loudly for their countryman, Hedo Turkoglu of the
Kings. ... The Nets conclude their four-game homestand Wednesday
night against Dallas. New Jersey is a combined 19-0 on Tuesdays,
Wednesdays and Thursdays. ... Scalabrine did a nice job defending
Webber in the second quarter, forcing him into four consecutive
misses from close range. ... The Nets improved to 7-0 against teams
that beat them in their previous matchup. ... Sacramento was held
under 100 points for only the second time in 17 games.