Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/20

Game 1: Wednesday, November 20th
Game 2: Wednesday, December 25th
Game 3: Thursday, March 13th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 18th

Celtics 75

(37-28, 15-17 away)

Nets 90

(40-25, 27-5 home)

    7:30 PM ET, March 13, 2003

    IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

    1 2 3 4 T
    BOS 18 19 21 1775
    NJ 20 27 25 1890

    Top Performers

    Bos: P. Pierce 22 Pts, 9 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    NJ: J. Kidd 13 Pts, 8 Reb, 12 Ast, 3 Stl

    Harris breaks out of slump, scores 24 points

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- With the regular season winding down and first place in the Atlantic Division up for grabs, the New Jersey Nets are showing signs that their recent slump may be over.

    Kerry Kittles

    Kerry Kittles, right, steals the ball from Boston's Paul Pierce in the first quarter.

    Lucious Harris broke out of a two-month shooting slump with 24 points, and the first-place Nets won consecutive games for the first time since mid-February with a 90-75 win over the Boston Celtics on Thursday night.

    "I think the last two games, we understood what's at stake," Jason Kidd said after his 13-point, 12-assist, eight-rebound performance. "We put ourselves in this position. During the season you have your ups and downs. Now it's at the point where you can't have big downs."

    The victory increased the Nets' lead in the Atlantic Division to two games over idle Philadelphia, and three games over Boston. New Jersey will play the 76ers here Sunday and will face the Celtics on the road Tuesday as part of a stretch that could give the Nets some breathing room.

    "This was a great way to start," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "We did what we're supposed to do."

    The Nets, who have three wins in their last 10 games, got contributions from a lot of players.

    Kenyon Martin had 17 points and totally frustrated Antoine Walker on the defensive end, limiting him to 10 points on 3-for-15 shooting.

    Center Jason Collins also made an unexpected contribution, scoring all of his season-high 15 points during a 12-minute span when the Nets took the lead for good.

    "I think we all played well tonight scoring points, and K-Mart did a good job on Walker," said Harris, who scored 17 points in the second half on 7-of-9 shooting.

    Paul Pierce had 22 points to lead Boston, which was playing its second game in two nights.

    "They are a tough team to play against on back-to-back nights because they run the court so well," Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said.

    Walker was never in the flow, and O'Brien didn't play him in the fourth quarter.

    "Ask Coach O'Brien," Walker said when asked about sitting the final 12 minutes. "That's it."

    O'Brien said he would have put Walker in if the Celtics had made a run.

    Walker's frustration showed in the third quarter when Martin stripped him on a drive to the basket and Walker came close to shoving the Nets' power forward. Martin walked away smiling after Walker was called for his fourth foul.

    "I just kept trying to get under his skin," Martin said.

    Harris' point total was his highest since he had a season-high 26 on Jan. 15 against the 76ers. Before Thursday night, he'd scored only 25 points over his previous five games.

    Collins almost single-handedly gave the Nets a 47-37 halftime lead, scoring seven straight points in a 9-0 run, which Martin capped with a dunk off a pass from Kidd just before the buzzer.

    The Celtics were within seven points early in the third quarter, but Kidd hit a 3-pointer and Jefferson made a free throw to push the lead to 57-46. Boston got within nine when Pierce made two free throws, but Collins hit a layup, a jumper and another layup to push the lead to 15 points.

    Game notes
    The Nets lead the season series 2-1. ... New Jersey had a 47-42 edge in rebounding. ... Boston made nine 3-pointers, with J.R. Bremer and Eric Williams each hitting three. ... Walker was 0-for-5 from long range. ... Boston blocked six shots, with Pierce getting three. ... Kidd had an embarrassing moment in the first quarter when he literally got faked out of both his sneakers on a move and layup by Williams. ... The Nets are 27-5 at home. ... Rodney Rogers has slipped in the Nets' rotation. Second-year player Brian Scalabrine is now the first forward off the bench.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 75 90
    FGM-FGA 26-77 (.338) 31-76 (.408)
    3PM-3PA 9-28 (.321) 4-10 (.400)
    FTM-FTA 14-20 (.700) 24-32 (.750)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-42 13-47
    Assists 13 24
    Turnovers 20 16
    Steals 8 12
    Blocks 6 1
    Fast Break Points 0 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 20 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Paul Pierce Pierce
    Points: 22
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 3
    Jason Kidd Kidd
    Points: 13
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 12
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0