"That was the best we've played in a while,'' said Scott, who
seemed to have straightened things out with Sprewell in brief
third-quarter talk. "To me, just watching the game, we played a
lot like a team I saw earlier this year and the team I saw last
year. We got after it on the defensive end and when we do that, the
offense is pretty easy.''
Richard Jefferson added 17 points and 10 rebounds, Kerry Kittles
had 13 and the two turned in great defensive efforts against
Sprewell and Houston as New Jersey handed New York its most
lopsided loss of the season.
"The most important thing was defense, the job Kerry and R.J.
and the team did on Allen Houston and Sprewell,'' Nets forward
Kenyon Martin said. "They did a terrific job. If we can take that
defensive effort for the rest of the season and learn from it,
we'll be all right.''
The game between the Hudson River rivals lacked emotion, and a
simmering tiff between Sprewell and Scott over some recent comments
by Nets coach never escalated. In fact, they cleared the air with
8:51 left in the third quarter.
"He said don't believe everything you hear,'' Sprewell said.
"I don't. That's why I didn't make that much of it. We left it at
Sprewell gave the Nets some anxious moments, hitting two early
jumpers. But he never got untracked and finished with a team-high
13 points on 5-for-14 shooting.
Houston, who had 28 in a win over the Rockets on Tuesday, was
never a factor, scoring six points -- 16.1 less than his average.
"Tonight was just a bad night for me personally,'' said
Houston, who was 3-for-11 from the field. "I made a lot of
mistakes defensively as well as offensively shooting the ball.
That's what's frustrating to me.''
The 19 combined points by Sprewell and Houston was their second
lowest effort of the season. They had 18 (Houston 15, Sprewell 3)
against Toronto on Jan. 1.
The game was competitive until the final 90 seconds of the first
A baseline jumper by Michael Doleac pulled the Knicks to 42-40
with 1:50 left in the half. New York didn't score again until
Houston hit his final basket of the game on a 15-footer with 8:57
left in the third.
By that time, the Nets had scored 13 straight points -- the final
seven of the first half and first six of the second.
Kittles had five of his 13 in the span and Jason Collins added
four. Kidd added a layup and made a nice no-look pass to set up a
dunk by Kenyon Martin, who spent most of the second quarter in the
Nets' locker room with an upset stomach.
"Right now, a victory is a victory,'' Jefferson said. "It's
not about an area rivalry.''
New Jersey led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, and
the final score represented the largest margin of the game.
"We didn't have anyone going for us,'' Sprewell said. "Guys
Knicks rookie Frank Williams, who had scored eight points
in 64 minutes spread over eight games, hit three 3-pointers in the
second quarter and finished with a career-high 11. Right after he
hit his third 3-pointer, Knicks coach Don Chaney subbed him out of
the game. ... New Jersey's other three-game losing streak was on a
West Coast swing in January. ... Martin returned to the Nets lineup
after missing Tuesday night's loss to Cleveland because of a family
problem. ... New Jersey shot 56.4 for the game, outrebounded New
York 48-32 and held a 60-24 advantage in the paint. ... The Nets
improved to 8-1 against teams that beat them in their previous
meeting. ... Houston had reached double figures in 17 straight