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Johnson, Scalabrine fill in for Kidd and Jefferson

2/1/2003

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- With Jason Kidd dressed in a suit
and Richard Jefferson curled up on the trainer's table in a fetal
position, the New Jersey Nets needed two of their underused players
to make a contribution.

Anthony Johnson and Brian Scalabrine certainly did.

Kenyon Martin had his second straight big game with 23 points
and 13 rebounds, and backups Johnson and Scalabrine made the most
of their first starts with the Nets in an 89-72 victory over the
New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.

"It was a good team effort," Martin said. "You never know
when one guy can go down. Guys who haven't played have to stay in
shape. You never know when your number is going to be called."

Johnson and Scalabrine showed they were ready in replacing Kidd
(strained groin) and Jefferson (stomach virus).

Johnson scored 10 points, while Scalabrine had five points,
seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks in an energetic
performance that helped the Nets win their fourth straight game and
21st in 23 at home.

"I was a little nervous at the start," said Scalabrine, who
was averaging 8.3 minutes. "I was starting for the first time in
my career. I looked at the stat sheet with 42 minutes. I don't
think I played 42 minutes all of last season. I thought I did well.
I'm definitely looking forward to playing again tomorrow."

It's uncertain whether Scalabrine will start in Detroit on
Saturday. Johnson definitely will, as Kidd is sidelined at least
until Monday.

"Selfishly, I would like to play as much as possible," Johnson
said. "But this team does a lot better with him here. The only way
we will make a championship run is with him here. I'll welcome him
back in a couple of games but for now let me run the ship."

Kerry Kittles, who missed Wednesday's game against Washington
for personal reasons, returned with a 21-point performance.

The Nets limited the Hornets to a season-low point total. New
Orleans' previous low was 79 against Chicago on Nov. 1.

Jamal Mashburn had 17 points for the undermanned Hornets, who
shot 33 percent from the field. New Orleans point guard Baron Davis
is out 6 weeks following knee surgery, and center Elden Campbell
missed his second straight game with a strained neck.

"They had two of their guys out and sometimes that's the
scariest thing," said Robert Pack, who had 10 points replacing
Davis. "Teams rally and guys on the bench pick their energy up.
Tonight we got caught by a team that played well without a couple
of their top guys. It was a rough night for us."

Martin gave the Nets the lead for good, 9-8, with an alley-oop
layup off a pass from Scalabrine.

New Jersey led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter and
held a seven-point lead at the half.

Martin and Johnson helped break the game open in the closing
minutes of the third quarter, leading an 18-6 spurt. Martin started
the spurt with a dunk off Johnson's feed. After Johnson hit a
runner and Martin made a jumper, the two each made two free throws.
Scalabrine ended the run with a 3-pointer for a 71-53 lead.

New Orleans got within nine points late in the fourth quarter,
but the Nets scored the final eight points.

Game notes
This was the first meeting between the teams since New
Jersey eliminated the then Charlotte Hornets in the Eastern
Conference semifinals last year. ... Lucious Harris had 13 points
off the bench for New Jersey, which outscored the Hornets 50-20 in
the paint.

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