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Harris might make Kittles' return a non-event

12/28/2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Lucious Harris is playing so well it might be tough for Kerry Kittles to get back into the New
Jersey Nets' starting lineup.

Harris scored a season-high 25 points and the Nets rolled to
their 12th consecutive home victory with a 110-90 decision over the
Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

''Lucious is one of the most underrated players in the league,''
Nets coach Byron Scott said after his team won for the 17th time in
18 games in the Continental Airlines Arena.

''I have been saying this all along -- Lucious does everything
pretty well,'' Scott said. ''There is nothing negative about the
way he plays basketball.''

Not only is Harris good on offense, he's just as good on
defense. Besides hitting 9-for-15 from the field, he limited
Milwaukee's Ray Allen to 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting in 27
minutes.

Harris' play as the Nets' shooting guard is making Scott
reconsider his lineup. Kittles is getting closer to returning from
a sprained knee and the coach must decide whether to keep Harris as
a starter or give the job back to Kittles, who held it all last
season.

''Right now, I'm having fun,'' said Harris, who moved into the
starting lineup 13 games ago. ''The team is having success. That's
the decision they've got to make. I'm glad I'm making it hard for
them.''

Harris has averaged more than 17 points as a starter.

''I have known him for some time, and once he gets his feet set
he can shoot with the best of them,'' said Nets point guard Jason
Kidd, who added 10 points, nine assists and five rebounds in 30
minutes.

Kenyon Martin had 21 points and Rodney Rogers added 13 points for the
Nets, who had six players in double figures.

Former Net Sam Cassell had 25 points for the struggling Bucks,
who had a two-game winning streak snapped.

''We didn't get any stops in the second half,'' Cassell said.
''They scored on the first eight possessions. You can't win like
that, not on the road anyway.''

Forced to play a half-court game instead of their usual
transition style, the Nets responded by hitting a season-high 54.8
percent from the field in moving to a victory of tying their team
record for home triumphs. The mark was set last year when New Jersey
won its first Eastern Conference title.

The Bucks, who beat the Nets earlier this season in Milwaukee,
made New Jersey work for 24 minutes to extend its overall five-game
winning streak.

Cassell hit a 35-footer at the buzzer to tie it at 26 after the
first quarter.

The Nets got a little breathing room when Harris scored seven
in a row and Martin hit a shot at the buzzer to give New Jersey a
60-53 lead at the half.

New Jersey used its defense and the quick spurt to take command
in the third quarter, outscoring the Bucks 26-17.

Martin, who shot 9-for-13 from the field, ignited the quarter with slams on the
break off feeds from Kidd and Harris. That matched New Jersey's
fastbreak total for the first half.

Milwaukee cut the Nets' lead to 71-64 on a fastbreak basket by
Thomas.

Harris hit a layup and a floater and jumper to ignite a 10-0 run
that gave New Jersey an 81-64 lead.

Milwaukee never threatened the rest of the way.

Game notes
The teams will play again Saturday in Milwaukee ... Nets
center Jason Collins set a career high with six assists ... The
Nets have beaten the Bucks at New Jersey three consecutive times ...
Nets fan favorite Brian Scalabrine had a season-high eight points.
... New Jersey is 11-1 when it scores at least 100 points.