Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 2/12

Game 1: Tuesday, February 12th
Game 2: Sunday, March 24th
Game 3: Tuesday, March 26th

Nets 77

(45-26, 16-20 away)

Hawks 103

(29-41, 20-14 home)

    Coverage: FSS

    7:30 PM ET, March 26, 2002

    Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

    1 2 3 4 T
    NJ 19 25 15 1877
    ATL 23 36 21 23103

    Top Performers

    NJ: R. Jefferson 21 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Atl: J. Vaughn 18 Pts, 4 Reb, 9 Ast, 3 Stl

    Hawks send Nets to worst loss of season

    ATLANTA (AP) -- Shareef Abdur-Rahim figured the Nets would be sticking close to him. So he decided to let his teammates share the fun.

    Shareef Abdur-Rahim

    Atlanta's Shareef Abdur-Rahim drives to the basket during the Hawks' surprising victory.

    Abdur-Rahim was among six Atlanta players scoring in double figures, leading the Hawks to a 103-77 rout of New Jersey, the best team in the Eastern Conference.

    It was the worst loss of the season for the Nets, eclipsing a 22-point defeat at Washington on Dec. 31.

    Abdur-Rahim averaged 32 points in two previous games against New Jersey this season. He didn't think the Nets would let that happen again, so he focused on getting others involved.

    "My mindset was not to score, score, score," said Abdur-Rahim, who still managed 18 points. "I wanted to make them pay by finding the open guys."

    Vaughn kept getting open. The backup point guard equaled his career high with 18 points and also contributed nine assists, four rebounds and three steals.

    Vaughn had a chance to beat his previous scoring high in the final seconds, but he passed up a layup to give the ball to Leon Smith for a dunk.

    "Why not share the ball?" Vaughn said, who was aware of his personal mark. "The biggest smile on my face was seeing Leon get a dunk and get on the scoring sheet."

    The Hawks, winning for the seventh time in nine games, took control with a 36-point second quarter. They hit 16-of-24 shots (67 percent) in the period to build a 59-44 lead at halftime.

    Four Atlanta players were in double figures by halftime. Six finished there, with Jason Terry and Toni Kukoc scoring 13 each, Alan Henderson 12 and DerMarr Johnson 11.

    The Hawks shot 50 percent (40-of-80) overall, while holding the Nets to 29-of-72 (40 percent). Richard Jefferson paced New Jersey with 21 points, but no one else scored more than 11.

    "That was a very solid 48 minutes," Hawks coach Lon Kruger said. "That was as consistently as we've played all year. The guys played really good defense."

    His counterpart couldn't figure out what happened.

    "We got beat in every facet of the game," New Jersey coach Byron Scott said. "They outhustled us. I have no way of knowing why that would happen, to be honest with you. To me, they should be very embarrassed."

    The Nets played without Kenyon Martin, who began a two-game suspension for throwing an elbow at Abdur-Rahim on Sunday. His presence probably wouldn't have helped.

    "This wasn't the effort we should have given," Jefferson said. "They played with the enthusiasm and excitement that a first-place team should play with."

    Atlanta's reserves led the way in the decisive second period. Abdur-Rahim was able to rest for more than half the quarter, watching Henderson and Kukoc dominate the Nets.

    Henderson hit 6-of-8 shots and finished with 12 points, while Kukoc made a couple of 3-pointers, scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists.

    Even when the Hawks missed, things worked out OK. In the final minute of the first half, Terry threw up a two-handed heave with the shot clock about to expire, the ball barely nicking the bottom of the rim. Vaughn saved the ball from going out of bounds, flipping a pass right to Henderson for a dunk.

    Henderson got off another shot with a second to go in the half. It was blocked by Todd MacCulloch, but the tiny Vaughn slipped inside for a tip-in just before the buzzer to give the Hawks a 15-point lead at the break.

    "Jacque came in and really picked everyone up," Kruger said. "He had a couple of hustle plays at the end of the half that made a big difference. We got a lot of good help from the bench."

    The Nets made a brief spurt to get within 63-53, but the Hawks pulled away again for a commanding 80-59 lead by the end of the third.

    The Hawks eclipsed 100 points for the eighth time in nine games, including five in a row.

    Game notes

    The teams were meeting for the second time in a row. The Nets won 116-102 in New Jersey on Sunday. ... Abdur-Rahim scored 30 in that game, one day after the birth of his first child. Abdur-Rahim had 34 in the other meeting against New Jersey, a 105-103 victory on Feb. 12. ... The Nets' three-game winning streak ended. ... The Hawks have won six in a row at home for the first time since the 1997-98 season. They put together that streak at Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum, a temporary home while Philips Arena was being constructed. ... Jason Kidd, who made only 3-of-11 shots, sat out the fourth quarter with flu-like symptoms. There was really no need for him to play with the Nets trailing by 21.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 77 103
    FGM-FGA 29-72 (.403) 40-80 (.500)
    3PM-3PA 3-10 (.300) 6-14 (.429)
    FTM-FTA 16-23 (.696) 17-19 (.895)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-38 9-40
    Assists 13 22
    Turnovers 25 18
    Steals 10 14
    Blocks 7 5
    Fast Break Points 4 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (1/0) 20 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Richard Jefferson Jefferson
    Points: 21
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1
    Jacque Vaughn Vaughn
    Points: 18
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0