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Series now shifts to Manhattan

4/21/2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Once again, the New Jersey Nets
were the source of the hardest fouls and the best basketball.

The mismatch also known as the Knicks-Nets series stuck to form
Tuesday night, New Jersey showing its superiority over an
outmatched and banged-up opponent in a 99-81 victory.

The Nets opened a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which
resumes Thursday night at New York.

The Knicks weren't as docile as they were in the series opener
when Tim Thomas was flagrantly fouled and injured, but they didn't
put up all that much of a fight, either.

"I think they were aggressive, but I don't think they were more
physical," Kenyon Martin said.

Jason Kidd and Martin led the way as the Nets took control in
the second quarter, and New Jersey led by as many as 22 points in
defeating the Knicks for the 14th time in their last 16 meetings.

Martin led New Jersey with 22 points and 16 rebounds, and he
also had the most egregious foul of the game midway through the
third quarter. Although it was not called a flagrant foul, he
reached around from behind Dikembe Mutombo and swiped violently at
his arms, then shoved Mutombo in the back to earn a technical foul.

"I just wanted to foul him. I didn't want to get a tech," said
Martin, who was angered on the previous possession when he was
elbowed in the nose by Mutombo. "Emotions were running high."

Richard Jefferson also had a harder-than-usual foul, chasing
down Stephon Marbury and clobbering him as he went up for a layup
on a fast break. Marbury jumped up quickly and appeared ready to
confront Jefferson, but he thought otherwise -- perhaps remembering
he already had been called for a technical foul -- and walked to the
foul line under referee Greg Willard's escort.

"I just wanted to make sure he didn't get an 'and-one,"
Jefferson said. "He's a competitor, I'm a competitor. I'm not
going to do anything to hurt him, I have too much respect for him
and too much respect for the game of basketball."

Asked if he felt the foul was dirty, Marbury replied: "No
comment."

New York pulled to 66-56 on a transition jumper by Kurt Thomas
late in the third quarter, but Rodney Rogers answered with a
3-pointer and a layup. New Jersey then opened the fourth quarter
with a 10-4 run to end all doubt.

Jefferson had 20 points, Kerry Kittles scored 16, Kidd 15 and
Rogers 12.

Marbury, one of the few offense-minded players the Knicks had
left as Tim Thomas (bruised back and ankle) and Allan Houston (knee
soreness) sat out, led New York with 23 points. Kurt Thomas had 18
points and 12 rebounds, and Penny Hardaway, who replaced Tim Thomas
in the starting lineup, added 13 points, 10 assists and seven
rebounds.

The Nets didn't score their second fast-break basket until
midway through the second quarter, but they finished with 20 points
on the break to help overcome 25 turnovers.

"For us right now, our mind-set totally has to change,"
Marbury said.

Perhaps no play signified how lost the Knicks were as one less
than two minutes into the second half. The Nets, as they did
throughout Game 1 and much of Game 2, sent a second defender to
trap Marbury at midcourt as he dribbled.

Marbury was able to get the ball to Kurt Thomas, but the Knicks'
offense came to a complete stop. Martin reached in and poked the
ball loose, and Kidd streaked downcourt with it before feeding a
behind-the-back pass to Martin for a dunk. Thomas shoved Martin in
the lower back as he scored, and the three-point play gave New
Jersey its first 20-point lead, 59-39.

The same trap caused an 8-second backcourt violation, and New
York committed six turnovers in all during the third quarter.

The hard fouls ceased in the final 12 minutes, and Nets coach
Lawrence Frank pulled Kidd and Jefferson with 4:24 remaining and
New Jersey ahead by 19.

With 46 seconds left, the few fans still remaining chanted
"Sweep."

"There was a lot of trash talking out there," Hardaway said.
"Every time we went to the basket they gave a hard foul. They were
letting us know it's the playoffs, and they've been there and we
haven't, and that's it's going to be real hard to get a win in
their building."<
^Notes: Marbury had only five points in the second half, all from
the foul line. ... Martin dunked over Mutombo during the first
quarter and wagged a finger at the four-time defensive player of
the year. Jefferson tried to dunk over Mutombo in the third quarter
and whacked Mutombo across the face as he went up. No foul was
called. ... Marbury committed a hard foul against Jefferson,
smacking him across the wrist as Jefferson tried to drive the lane.