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Nets win fourth in a row overall

HOUSTON (AP) -- The New Jersey Nets took turns pulling themselves
back into the game.

Kenyon Martin scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half and
Richard Jefferson added a surge to help the Nets overcame a slow
start for an 88-77 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday,
giving Lawrence Frank a 3-0 record as interim coach.

Frank is unbeaten since replacing Byron Scott on Jan. 26, and
the Nets have won four in a row.

"We come in waves, go with the hot hand," Jefferson said.
"Jimmy (Jackson) got in foul trouble and we were trying to go at
him. We were intense the first half. We just weren't hitting shots.

"We were shooting 30 percent and they were shooting 60
percent."

Martin started pulling the Nets back with 15 third-quarter
points, including an alley-oop slam that gave the Nets their first
lead of the game at 49-48.

Martin scored the Nets' final six points of the quarter for a
66-60 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Nets took the lead for good at 72-71 on a pair of free
throws by Martin with 7:20 to play.

"We started missing shots and they got into transition some,"
Maurice Taylor said. "Once they start running, they're a tough
team to beat."

Jefferson had seven of his points in the final five minutes when
the Nets pulled away.

"Our defense was great," Martin said. "Our game plan was to
get the ball inside and I really got things rolling. Our defense
made big stops in the second half and we dictated the tempo and
made Houston do the things we wanted them to do."

Steve Francis broke out of a shooting slump with 10
first-quarter points to give the Rockets the early lead. Cuttino
Mobley had 11 points in the second quarter for the Rockets.

Francis led the Rockets with 26 points, and Mobley added 13.

It wasn't enough to overcome the Rockets' second-half collapse.

"We turn the ball over too much," Taylor said. "When we win
games, we have a high number of turnovers and today the same thing
happened. It came back to bite us."

Jason Kidd finished with 21 points for New Jersey and Jefferson
had 17.

"Any time we are aggressive, then good things will happen,"
Kidd said. "We played inside out and we rode the hot hand, shrink
the floor and make it small and I thought we protected the paint
very well."

Houston's biggest lead of the first half was 38-26 in the second
quarter on a 3-point basket by Mobley. That momentum melted in the
third quarter.

"It wasn't just the offense," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy
said. "We turned it over and we lost heart in the third quarter
when it didn't go well. Instead of fighting, we lost a lot of
heart."

Yao Ming was held to nine points and six rebounds, partly
because of the work of Jason Collins.

"I thought Jason did an excellent job on yao ming," Kidd said.
"He gets all the credit and he did a wonderful job defending."

Game notes
Yao is the Western Conference starting center for the
All-Star game, but his vote for the starter would go to Shaquille
O'Neal. "If everybody looks at ability at this point, it's pretty
obvious who should be starting," Yao said. ... Houston is 23-9 at
home against the Nets, who are 12-12 on the road this season.

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