New Jersey's Jason Kidd gets the inside angle on Washington's Christian Laettner.
Both Kidd and Jordan entered the game with 7:10 remaining,
during a couple of free throws that gave the New Jersey Nets a
From there, Kidd took over -- while Jordan was a non-factor. Kidd
stole the ball from Jerry Stackhouse, converted the layup and added
four more points in a big run to lead the Nets to an 87-79 victory
over the Wizards on Saturday night.
''The fourth quarter is winning time,'' New Jersey coach Byron
Scott said. ''J-Kidd, and they've got the best ever in Michael.
Just like he took it upon himself, so did J-Kidd.''
In an early matchup of teams expected to contend for the
Atlantic Division title, the Nets had five players score in double
figures, led by Kidd's 18 points. New Jersey is 3-0, while
Washington in three games has gone from very bad to very good to
not good enough to beat the defending Eastern Conference champions.
''Jason Kidd showed why he is talked about as being the MVP of
the league,'' Washington coach Doug Collins said. ''He came in and
had a little stretch there of about three minutes where he just
changed the game.''
That's supposed to be Jordan's role. He isn't starting this
season so he can be strong when the game's on the line, but he
missed two of his next three shots after re-entering the game with
Kidd as New Jersey built the double-digit lead.
Jordan finished with 21 points on 7-for-16 shooting in 27
minutes. Stackhouse led Washington with 23 points.
''It really is hard to say whether it's working out or not
working out,'' said Jordan, asked about his reserve role. ''We're
in the games. We're competing. Myself, I'm starting to find a
little groove when I get in the game, and I think that Doug is
going to try to give me some longer stretches so that I can
maintain a certain rhythm.''
Kidd added 10 rebounds and nine assists, but he also had seven
turnovers for the Nets. Kerry Kittles had 15 points in a game in
which neither team shot well. New Jersey shot 39 percent from the
field; Washington shot 37 percent, in part because its was rattled
by the Nets' stiff defense in the second half.
''The best thing has been our defense,'' Scott said. ''The fact
that when we want to turn it on -- when guys really start to get up
and start pressuring guys -- that's been our staple.''
The Nets won without the fireworks they had the night before
against Indiana, when three players were ejected and nine
technicals called. The Wizards landed somewhere in between their
awful opener against Toronto and their 45-point victory over Boston
earlier this week.
''Look at the teams we've played,'' Collins said. ''We've got
eight new players. We've got five new starters. People have gone
from having us in the Eastern Conference finals -- then we lose to
Toronto -- to winning nine games -- then beating Boston -- to being in
the Eastern Conference finals. It's like a yo-yo, and we've played
three games. Nothing like instant gratification.''
An even first half left the Wizards ahead 36-35. The Nets shot
just 29 percent in the second quarter. Jordan played 12 minutes the
half, scoring a relatively quiet seven points on 3-for-7 shooting.
The Nets took the first double-digit lead of the game in the
third quarter after back-to-back transition assists from Kidd. The
first was an alley-oop for Kenyon Martin, and the second set up
Kittles' three-point play to make it 53-43 with 4:54 left in the
Kidd was fined $5,000 by the NBA for elbowing Indiana's
Jamaal Tinsley in the game Friday night against the Pacers. Scott said
the officials should share some of the blame for a game that
included three ejections and nine technical fouls. ''They didn't
control the game,'' Scott said. ''They let it get out of hand.''
Said Kidd: ''The league fined me for the shoving match,
well-deserved. I'll pay the fine.'' ... After starting the season
19-for-19 from the free-throw line, Stackhouse finally missed one
in the third quarter. ... The Nets are 3-0 for the first time since
1997, when they opened 4-0.