Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/22

Game 1: Friday, November 22nd
Game 2: Monday, December 30th
Game 3: Tuesday, February 25th
Game 4: Sunday, March 23rd

Nets 90

(37-21, 12-17 away)

Cavaliers 93

(11-46, 8-20 home)

    Coverage: FSOH

    7:00 PM ET, February 25, 2003

    Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

    1 2 3 4 T
    NJ 12 19 33 2690
    CLE 25 20 22 2693

    Top Performers

    New Jersey: J. Kidd 31 Pts, 3 Reb, 9 Ast, 5 Stl, 1 Blk

    Cleveland: Z. Ilgauskas 29 Pts, 8 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 Blk

    Nets miss Martin, Cavs in mood to celebrate

    CLEVELAND (AP) -- Jumaine Jones was up for a party.

    Hey, it's not like he and the Cavaliers have had many chances to celebrate this season.

    Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 29 points and Jones added 14 as Cleveland got its first win since the All-Star break, 93-90 Tuesday night over the New Jersey Nets.

    "I feel like popping some champagne,'' Jones said after the NBA's worst team improved to 11-46. "We came in here and had the lead at halftime. It had been a long time since we even had that. This was good for the guys.

    "It feels good.''

    Ilgauskas also stole a pass from Jason Kidd and hit two key free throws with 13.7 seconds left for the Cavs, who snapped a six-game losing streak with their first win since Feb. 5.

    Cleveland nearly blew it in the closing seconds, however, and only survived when Kidd's game-tying 3-pointer at the horn hit the front of the rim.

    "I've seen him make those shots,'' said Cleveland interim coach Keith Smart, now 3-12 since taking over for John Lucas. "The way he stepped into it, I thought it was going in.''

    Ricky Davis added 19 points and Jones had 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which led 25-12 after one quarter and held on to snap a four-game losing skid at home.

    "They came out and didn't act like a team with just 10 wins,'' Kidd said. "We fought back like we always do, but we just couldn't get over the hump.''

    Kidd had 31 points, 21 in the second half, and nine assists for the Nets, who have lost three straight and six of nine since the break.

    New Jersey played without forward Kenyon Martin, who left the team to attend to a family matter.

    But despite missing Martin, shooting poorly all night and trailing by 17 at one point, the Nets pulled within 88-86 on Kidd's two free throws with 1:20 remaining.

    New Jersey, thought, couldn't come all the way back.

    "We missed K-Mart big time,'' Kidd said. "Especially on the inside game, defensively and rebounding. In the last week, we've dug a hole and hoped someone would pull us out.''

    Davis hit a free throw to give Cleveland an 89-86 lead, and Ilgauskas picked off Kidd's pass in the lane and was fouled with 13.7 seconds to go.

    After the Cavs' center made his free throws, Milt Palacio made two more to give Cleveland a 91-87 lead with 9.7 seconds left.

    But Anthony Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left for New Jersey, and New Jersey got a last chance when Jones' long pass went out of bounds.

    Kidd dribbled up the floor, launched his 3 from the top of the key watched it graze the rim as time expired.

    "A few weeks ago, we would have let them come all the way back and beat us,'' Davis said. "It's great to finish it out. It shows we've grown a little bit and are starting to play like a team.''

    Kidd needed to do a little bit more of everything with Martin out, and in the third quarter New Jersey's All-Star guard almost single-handedly brought the Nets back.

    Kidd, coming off a triple-double, scored 15 points and added four assists in the period as the Nets trimmed a 14-point deficit to three entering the fourth.

    With their starters shooting just 7-for-26, the Nets scored a season-low 31 points in the first half and trailed by 14 at the break.

    New Jersey coach Byron Scott said his team was "in a funk'' following a loss to Orlando on Sunday, and the Nets stayed in one during a first quarter when they scored just 12 points on 4-of-20 shooting.

    "We're down right now,'' Scott said. "We're still in it; that cloud is still above us.''

    Game notes

    Cavs G Dajuan Wagner returned briefly after being poked in the eye during the second quarter, but sat out until the opening minutes of the fourth. ... Scott said he expected Martin to rejoin the club in time for Wednesday's home game against New York. ... The Cavs activated G Smush Parker before the game and placed G Bimbo Coles on the injured list with the flu. The Cavs are reportedly trying to buy out Coles' contract. The 34-year-old Coles is making $2.4 million and owns an option worth $2.6 million on his 2003-04 deal. ... Brian Scalabrine started in Martin's spot. ...Ilgauskas tied a career-high with six assists.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 90 93
    FGM-FGA 32-90 (.356) 33-77 (.429)
    3PM-3PA 5-20 (.250) 3-13 (.231)
    FTM-FTA 21-26 (.808) 24-27 (.889)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-40 14-51
    Assists 24 17
    Turnovers 9 20
    Steals 10 5
    Blocks 5 7
    Fast Break Points 6 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (1/0) 24 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Jason Kidd Kidd
    Points: 31
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 5
    Blk: 1
    Zydrunas Ilgauskas Ilgauskas
    Points: 29
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 3