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NBA FINALS | OTHER VIEWS

Series Is Over Before It Starts

June 06, 2002|IRA WINDERMAN | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

What? You were expecting scintillating competition? That ended Sunday night in Sacramento, with Chris Webber deferring, Doug Christie missing and Peja Stojakovic coming up empty.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals, a mandated completion of this playoff process, proved to be an uneven as the difference between the league's half-full and half-empty conferences, with the Los Angeles Lakers retaining their attention long enough to hold on for a 99-94 victory Wednesday night over the New Jersey Nets at Staples Center.

"I'm not going to blame our mental letdown," said center Shaquille O'Neal, who lifted the Lakers with 36 points and 16 rebounds. "We have to pick it up--and we will."

The opening act of this anti-climax to the riveting Western Conference finals confirmed all suspicions about the Eastern Conference in general and the Nets in particular. Feisty? Certainly. Complete? Not nearly enough by left-coast standards.

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