Martin states his case as defensive stopper

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Kenyon Martin is considered one of
the top five defenders in the NBA. Just ask him.

"I've been that, I just ain't made (the All-Defensive Team). I've been preaching that since my rookie year,'' Martin said.

Martin backed up his argument by shutting down Tracy McGrady as the New Jersey Nets were building a big early lead in a 121-88 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.

Martin held McGrady to 0-for-7 shooting in the first quarter and 2-for-13 shooting by halftime as New Jersey came back from a quick 10-0 deficit and opened a 20-point lead by intermission.

It was the latest installment of Martin, who is known more nationally for his temper than his defensive talent, shutting down an opposing team's best offensive player.

"I don't think there's anybody around the league who has done a better defensive job,'' teammate Richard Jefferson said.

Martin did the same earlier this season against Tim Duncan and Rasheed Wallace, and this time it was McGrady who could never get untracked.

"He plays hard and is physical,'' Orlando coach Doc Rivers. "It's almost like he's taking the heart from our guys.''

Jason Kidd had 15 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds before sitting out the entire fourth quarter. Jefferson scored 19, Rodney Rogers had 17, Lucious Harris 15 and rookie Tamar Slay added a career-high 14 in the Nets' highest scoring game of the season.

Grant Hill scored 20 for the Magic, who were playing the
second-night of a back-to-back set and seemed to lose all their
energy after their early lead disappeared.

"As soon as a team hits us, it seems we get tired and use it as
an excuse to cave in,'' Hill said.

McGrady finished 4-for-20 from the field for 16 points, nine coming in the third quarter after the Nets were already firmly in control. He was hesitant to extent any credit to Martin, explaining instead that he remains slowed by a sore ankle that kept him out of a game earlier in the week.

"It's not a tough matchup. I've faced him so many times,'' McGrady said. "It was one of those nights when you're not making shots.''

Although Orlando scored the first 10 points, the double-digit lead was gone by the end of the first quarter as New Jersey took a 24-21 into the second period.

That's when the Nets were all but unstoppable, using 15-for-21
shooting to build a 58-38 halftime lead. Kidd closed the quarter
with two nifty passes, the first a lob ahead of the field to
Jefferson for a breakaway dunk; the second an alley-oop toss to
Martin with a dunk.

Kidd hit a 3-pointer early in the third for a 70-46 lead, then
lobbed a pass behind Orlando's zone to find Martin for yet another
alley-oop dunk and a 74-48 lead.

McGrady made consecutive 3-pointers midway through the quarter -- the first as the Nets were slow to rotate on defense, the second in transition -- to cut the deficit to 18, but New Jersey quickly recovered and got the lead up to 30 on a 3 by Slay with 3 seconds left that made it 93-63.

New Jersey reached 100 points with 9:43 remaining in the fourth,
eventually went up by 37 and went on to hand Orlando its third loss
by 33 points or more.

The Nets had season highs in field-goal percentage (54.5), field
goals (48), assists (33), 3-pointers (11) and fewest turnovers

"I think we played our best defense of the year against a very
good offensive team,'' Nets coach Byron Scott said.

Game notes
Attendance was 14,623, leaving the Nets without a sellout
through their first 10 home games. ... Orlando's Pat Garrity has
hit a 3-pointer in 48 consecutive games, the longest such streak in
the NBA. ... All 13 of New Jersey's victories have been by at least
seven points. ... The Nets improved to 10-1 when leading after the
first quarter. ... Scott earned his 91st win as New Jersey's coach,
tying Larry Brown for second-place behind Kevin Loughery on the
franchise's career coaching victories list. ... Every member of the
Nets scored except Dikembe Mutombo, who is out 12-to-16 weeks after
wrist surgery but remains on the active roster.


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