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K-Mart's 36 lead NJ's closeout agenda

4/26/2004

NEW YORK (AP) -- Kenyon Martin was the real deal in carrying the
New Jersey Nets to a sweep of the New York Knicks.

Called "fugazy" -- a slang term for fake -- earlier in the
series, Martin broke out with a career-high 36 points Sunday night
and led the Nets to a 100-94 victory that ended the first-round
playoff series in four games.

Martin scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to help New Jersey
to its third straight sweep in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

"K-Mart was having a monster night," said Richard Jefferson,
who had 13 points. "We couldn't get him the ball fast enough."

A lot of the verbal jabs came from injured Knicks forward Tim
Thomas, who missed his third straight game because of back spasms
after a flagrant foul by Jason Collins in Game 1.

Thomas sat on the bench in uniform, but he and injured guard
Allan Houston couldn't provide any assistance.

"I just came out and tried to be aggressive," Martin said.
"The series was on the line and good players step up."

Martin also grabbed 13 rebounds, and Jason Kidd had 20 points
and seven assists for the Nets, who have won 14 consecutive
postseason games against Eastern opponents, dating to last year
when they reached the NBA Finals for the second straight season.

"With all the talk throughout the year, that they were going to
catch us, that they were the better team, that they wanted to play
us in the playoffs, sometimes it's fool's gold," Kidd said.
"Sometimes you wish for something you don't want."

Stephon Marbury had 31 points -- 12 in the fourth quarter -- for
the Knicks, who built an 85-79 lead with 6:50 left but couldn't
hold on. Penny Hardaway had 17 points, and Kurt Thomas added 14
points and 15 rebounds.

New York made its first playoff appearance in three years, but
it was a short stay for the rebuilt Knicks, who were swept in a
best-of-seven series for the first time since 1983. The Knicks
hadn't been swept since 1991 when they lost a best-of-five series
to Chicago.

"We played like our lives were on the line the last two
games," Knicks forward Vin Baker said.

The Nets beat the Knicks in the playoffs for the first time in
three tries and await the winner of the series between Milwaukee
and Detroit, which leads 2-1.

New Jersey was the second team to advance Sunday, following the
Indiana Pacers, who eliminated Boston.

After two blowout victories at home, the Nets pulled out an
81-78 win in Game 3 and another tight one at Madison Square Garden
to end the series.

Martin scored New Jersey's first eight points in the fourth
quarter, but the Nets only led 77-75 when timeout was called with
9:06 remaining. Rookie coach Lawrence Frank decided to rest Martin
then, giving the Knicks a chance.

After the teams traded jump shots, Marbury hit a shot and then
drilled a 3-pointer to make it 82-79. Frank Williams followed with
a 3 of his own to give the Knicks their biggest lead.

Frank called timeout and got Martin back in the game. The Nets
ran off seven straight points to regain the lead. The advantage
swung back and forth throughout the quarter, but the Knicks went
cold.

"They took the lead and we didn't panic," Martin said. "We
just got stops down the stretch. We went out there and willed our
way to the win."

Baker's dunk gave the Knicks an 87-86 lead with 4:49 remaining,
but they didn't make another field goal until Nazr Mohammed's dunk
with 14 seconds left made it 96-94 for New Jersey.

Lucious Harris sealed it with four free throws.

For the second time in the series the dislike between the clubs
turned physical, and Williams was involved both times.

After a ball rolled out of bounds, Williams and Jefferson
exchanged shoves with 1:11 left in the third. Double technical
fouls were issued and no punches were thrown.

In Game 1, Williams shoved Kidd to the floor.

"I was going against Jason Kidd, a guy who I normally play with
in video games," Williams said. "It was just a thrill to play."

The Knicks had plenty of fight left in them with their season in
the balance, and Marbury nearly shot them to victory in the fourth
quarter.

He made just seven of 17 shots in the first three, but connected
four of nine times in the final 12 minutes to put New York in
front.

In the first three games, Marbury scored only 15 second-half
points on 3-of-21 shooting.

"The way (Frank) prepared them to play us is the perfect way,"
Marbury said. "Whatever it took to get the ball out of my
hands."

Game notes
Kidd was chosen to the All-NBA first team. ... New Giants
quarterback Eli Manning, the No. 1 pick Saturday in the NFL draft,
got a big cheer in the second quarter when shown in the crowd. ...
There were two clock malfunctions at the Garden for the second
straight game. The clock was stuck at 2.2 seconds left in the
second quarter, and then had to be readjusted in the final 20
seconds. New York protested to the NBA after Game 3, but the appeal
was denied.