<
>

Nets: What about us?

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kenyon Martin is tired of hearing
that someone in the Eastern Conference is going to beat the New Jersey Nets in the playoffs.

Despite the Nets' first-round sweep of the New York Knicks,
there's talk that Indiana or Detroit can end the Nets' two-year
reign in the East.

"We have been underdogs all year," an irked Martin said
Thursday before the Nets knew their second-round opponent would be the Pistons. "We've been underdogs for three years and made it to the
finals twice.

"The only people that matter are the people in that locker room
and the organization. People write us off all the time.
It's nothing new."

Fellow forward Richard Jefferson has heard so many predictions
that the Nets would lose in the playoffs that it doesn't bother him
any more.

"It's always that way. Why worry about it?" Jefferson said.
"Next series they are going to beat us. Next series they are going
to beat us. After a while, you become immune to it."

Jefferson points to the results.

Over the last two years, New Jersey has won 14 straight playoff
games against Eastern Conference foes, tying the second longest
streak in NBA history.

The Lakers won 16 in a row in the Western Conference between
2000-2002. They also had a 14-game streak from 1988-90.

"We haven't really gotten the respect we deserve," veteran
forward Rodney Rogers said. "Everybody is always talking about the
other teams in the East. We can't worry about that. If we take care
of ourselves, we know what we are capable of. We'll just get
prepared for whoever we have to play."

The Nets will play Detroit in the second round. The Pistons eliminated the Bucks on Thursday to set up the Detroit-New Jersey series, which is a rematch of last year's
conference final, which the Nets swept.

There is some animosity between the teams, who split four games
in the regular season.

In the last game, the Nets committed an intentional foul to stop
the clock with 13.1 seconds left. Aaron Williams then made a tip-in
with 1.1 seconds remaining in an 89-71 loss that prevented the
Pistons from holding a sixth straight opponent under 70 points. The
Pistons mocked the Nets for celebrating the basket.