EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Taking a couple of minutes of playing time away from Jason Kidd helped Byron Scott and the New Jersey Nets.
A more-rested Kidd scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and the Nets avoided another early season embarrassment by beating the struggling New York Knicks 85-80 Friday night.
Kidd's performance came after Scott promised to cut his All-Star
point guard's minutes, which were averaging more than 41. The total
went down to 36 on Friday.
"When you play 40-something minutes, as much you want to
compete, sometimes that can dilute things," said Kidd, who also
had three of his 10 assists in the final quarter. "When you can be
around 36 to 38 minutes, that helps. Your legs are fresher,
defensively and offensively."
Kidd shot 3-of-5 from the field down the stretch and 4-of-6 from
the free throw line.
Kenyon Martin added 21 points and 10 rebounds as the two-time
defending Eastern Conference champions snapped a two-game losing
streak and three-game skid at home by handing the Knicks their
third straight loss.
"He (Scott) took me and Jason out early, so that helped a
little bit toward the end of the game," Martin said. "We got that
early break. It was needed with a back-to-back."
Kerry Kittles added 15 points, including a late 3-pointer that
helped break the game open. Rookie guard Zoran Planinic got Kidd's
minutes and scored nine points.
Planinic had scored four points in 37 minutes in his first seven
"Before I was trying to please everybody," said Planinic, the
Croatian who was the Nets' first-round draft pick. "Other guards
pressured me. The easiest way is to go by them. I didn't do that
Allan Houston almost single-handedly kept the Knicks in the game
in the second half, scoring 20 of his 31 points. Kurt Thomas added
14 points and 14 rebounds, while Keith Van Horn had nine points and
11 rebounds against one of his former teams.
Kidd got the Nets going early in the fourth quarter after
Clarence Weatherspoon slammed home a dunk off a baseline drive and
added two free throws to give New York its final lead, 63-60.
Kidd tied the game with a second-chance 3-pointer off a feed
from Planinic. After two free throws by Alonzo Mourning gave New
Jersey the lead, Kidd fed Martin for two pick-and-roll layups. Two
free throws by Jefferson stretched the lead to 71-63 before the
Knicks drew to 74-73 on a 3-pointer by Howard Eisley, who had nine
points and six assists in his first start of the season.
Kidd, however, hit a jumper, two free throws and scored a layup
off an assist by Kittles to give New Jersey an 80-73 lead. The
Knicks never got closer than five points the rest of the way.
"You fight so hard to get back into the game, then when you
need to do the most you have to find ways to win games instead of
to lose games," said Houston, who was 11-of-20 from the field,
including 4-of-6 from long range.
In recent years, the Nets were good when the Knicks were bad and
vice versa. This year, the metropolitan area is in trouble -- at
least the way things look now.
The second quarter was a perfect example. The teams combined for
28 points on 13-for-34 shooting while turning the ball over 15
^Notes@: Knicks C Dikembe Mutombo, who left the game early in the
first quarter with a strained groin, managed to get called for an
offensive foul jumping on the opening tipoff. ...Nets G Robert Pack
did not play in his first game back with the team. ... The Knicks
had 23 turnovers, three more than the Nets.