Kittles hits go-ahead 3-pointer to spark Nets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- For a change, the New Jersey Nets
won a close home game in the fourth quarter.

Kerry Kittles' 3-pointer with 5:43 to go ignited a 14-2 spurt
that carried the Nets to a 101-95 victory over the New York Knicks
on Wednesday night.

"It was nice to pull it out and get one of those gut wins,"
said Kittles, who was 10-for-14 from the field. "We've been trying
to do that but we've been coming up short. We were more organized
down the stretch and we played really good defense."

In their last three close games at home, the Nets played poorly
down the stretch in losses to Utah, Philadelphia and Milwaukee.

"I would say 75 percent of the season we would have that
spurt," said Richard Jefferson, who added 18 points. ``Then 10
games you don't have that spurt, something goes wrong. All of a
sudden, you're struggling in the fourth quarter."

The Knicks were the ones who struggled down the stretch. They
made only two baskets after Kittles gave New Jersey an 87-85 lead,
and they saw Latrell Sprewell turn the ball over twice and Allan
Houston once.

"Late in the game, with six minutes to go, that's when you have
to play, especially on the road," Houston said. "You have to
outplay the other team and we didn't."

Kenyon Martin had 24 points, Kittles 23 and Jason Kidd added 17
points, nine rebounds and eight assists as the Nets remained a
half-game ahead of Philadelphia in the race for first place in the
Atlantic Division. The Sixers beat Indiana 91-85.

Sprewell had 24 points and nine assists, while Houston, who
tweaked his right hamstring in the first quarter, added 19 points,
but only nine in the final 36 minutes.

"We didn't execute down the stretch as well as we have been
doing late in games," said Sprewell, who also threw up a late
airball as New York lost its fifth straight game in New Jersey.

After Kittles' hit his third 3-pointer in as many attempts,
Jefferson stretched the lead to 89-85 with a reverse layup on a
fast break led by Kidd. Martin then stole the ball from Sprewell,
dribbled downcourt and scored on a layup.

Clarence Weatherspoon's two free throws got New York within
91-87, but Martin scored on a floater and hit two free throws for a
95-87 lead.

"He pretty much dominated the game," Nets coach Byron Scott
said of Martin, who also had 10 rebounds and five assists. "He hit
every big shot, he got rebounds and eventually went to the hoop.
Even though he was not guarding Latrell Sprewell or Allan Houston,
he was all over the place."

Kidd iced the game by stealing the ball from Houston and
converting a wild left-handed shot as Charlie Ward wrapped his arms
around him to try to prevent a fast-break layup.

After being down by 10 midway through the third quarter,
Sprewell got the Knicks back in the game by scoring 14 points in
the quarter. He had seven in a 12-0 run that helped New York enter
the final period tied at 74.

The Nets had closed the first half with a 24-7 run to take a
52-44 halftime lead. Kittles scored seven straight points late in
the spurt, while Kidd and Rodney Rogers added five apiece.

Game notes
Knicks coach Don Chaney has called Rudy Tomjanovich several
times since the man who replaced him as the Houston Rockets coach
in 1992 was diagnosed with bladder cancer. "I worked with him
shoulder to shoulder," Chaney said. "He's a great guy. The game
would miss him. He's done a great job as a coach and a player but
away from all that, he's a great person." ... Nets coach Byron
Scott and forward Kenyon Martin got hit with technicals 1:22 apart
in the first quarter. Knicks forward Kurt Thomas got one sitting on
the bench late in the third quarter. ... The teams will play again
in New York on Friday. ... Nets C Dikembe Mutombo is expected back
in the lineup on Saturday against Golden State after being
sidelined since November with a wrist injury.


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