EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Tim Duncan not only beat the Nets
again, he made them play scared.
That was the assessment of New Jersey coach Byron Scott after
the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions lost to Duncan
and the San Antonio Spurs 85-71 Wednesday night in their first
meeting since the NBA Finals.
"It's the first time we played that way, just scared to play,"
Scott said after the Nets lost for the fifth time in eight games.
"I don't know if it's because we didn't get off to a good start
playing a team that has all its weapons. They want to get back on
track, and it looked like we were scared to play the way we're
capable of playing."
Duncan had much to do with that with a season-high 31 points and
12 rebounds to overshadow a 14-point, 13-assist, 12-rebound
triple-double by Nets guard Jason Kidd.
Kidd, who spurned a free agent offer from the Spurs in the
offseason, deferred to Scott on whether the Nets played scared.
"He has a better view than I do," Kidd said. "If that's what he
sees, if that's the case, we've got to find some way to get the
enjoyment back into the game and have some fun and not make it such
Nothing was a struggle for Duncan, who hit 12 of 19 shots from
the field and blocked three shots, including two by Kidd in the
"He's a pretty smooth character," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
said of Duncan. "The game is really easy for him, the game of
basketball. He really understands what's going on. He is enjoying
his teammates. He is a great player. I don't know what else to tell
Tony Parker added 17 points in just his second game of the
season and Manu Ginobili had 12 points and eight rebounds as the
Spurs won their second straight game since Duncan and Parker
returned to the lineup.
Kenyon Martin added 14 points and 10 rebounds in his first game
since spraining his left ankle Oct. 31.
The Nets couldn't overcome long stretches of cold shooting --
another reminder of what happened in the finals when New Jersey
allowed San Antonio to go on a series-deciding 19-0 run in Game 6.
A 3-for-14 slump at the end of the second quarter came during a
21-5 spurt that gave the Spurs a 49-33 halftime lead.
Parker started the run with four straight points, Duncan added
six and Malik Rose had five, including a tip just before the
The disappointingly small crowd of 13,286 was starting to
grumble when the game turned on a spectacular block by Martin early
in the third quarter.
Duncan got the rebound in the lane and went up for a jump hook
with his arm fully extended. Martin came from the baseline and
blocked the shot well above the rim, swatting the ball into the
Duncan and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich both felt the officials
missed a goaltending call.
"It sparked them and they scored about 90 in a row," Popovich
said. "It was like we weren't there any more. It was 5-on-0."
New Jersey closed the quarter with a 17-4 run to pull to 63-56.
The deficit was reduced to three points in the fourth quarter, the
last time at 67-64 on a jumper by Martin in the lane.
Ginobili had a three-point play and a layup to spark a 16-5
spurt that included a pair of 3-pointers from the left corner by
Bruce Bowen and one by Parker.
The triple-double was the second of the season for Kidd and
the 52nd of his career. ...Kerry Kittles got a technical from
referee Violet Palmer for arguing a foul call. ...Nets F Brian
Scalabrine missed the game with a hip pointer. ... Kittles and
Richard Jefferson added 13 points apiece for New Jersey, which shot
36 percent form the field. ...The win was the Spurs first in three
road games. ...New Jersey is 1-3 at home. They were 33-8 last