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Supporting Cast Sounds Confident

June 07, 2002|Elliott Teaford

Point guard Jason Kidd scored 23 points, took 10 rebounds and had 10 assists Wednesday against the Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. It was a remarkable but fairly predictable performance from Kidd, the runner-up to San Antonio's Tim Duncan for most-valuable-player honors this season.

After all, Kidd averaged a triple-double during the Nets' Eastern Conference finals victory over the Boston Celtics. The Nets and Lakers can almost count on a repeat showing tonight in Game 2 at Staples Center.

However, the Nets need much more from their supporting cast if they hope to even the series at a victory apiece before returning to East Rutherford, N.J., for Game 3 on Sunday.

In fact, it would help matters greatly if Kidd had a supporting cast.

Only power forward Kenyon Martin, who scored 21 points, seemed to be on his game Wednesday. Small forward Keith Van Horn, shooting guard Kerry Kittles and reserves Lucious Harris and Richard Jefferson were all but invisible. The Nets relied on all of them, plus a few others, to advance to their first NBA Finals.

But in Game 1, Van Horn missed nine of 14 shots en route to 12 points. Kittles scored nine points, but didn't have much of an impact on the game. Jefferson, who had four points, and Harris (five on one-for-five shooting) certainly didn't have the Lakers quaking in their high tops.

"We'll adjust," Harris said. "Jason was doing what Jason does. We didn't knock down our shots. We needed to help him out. He did his job.... I don't think we played in the first quarter the way we've played all year. Our offense was kind of stagnant. We can't do it again in Game 2."


Van Horn had a few ideas on how to improve matters for Game 2.

"Obviously, our biggest adjustment is just going to be our mind-set going into the first quarter," he said, referring to the 29-14 drubbing the Nets took in the opening quarter of Game 1. "Number two is rebounding the ball and getting it into Jason's hands a little better. We're not going to underestimate them on the boards for the rest of the series."

The Lakers outrebounded the Nets, 17-10, including by 6-3 on the offensive end, during the first quarter. By game's end, the Lakers had a 50-45 rebounding advantage, with center Shaquille O'Neal taking 16.

Getting off to a better start also will be critical for the Nets, according to Van Horn. Their solid play in the second, third and fourth quarters could not help them rally from a 23-point deficit in the first half.

"I know we'll be much better in Game 2,'' Van Horn said. "I feel confident."


The Nets' free-throw shooting was another area they hoped to improve upon tonight. They missed 11 of 26 from the free-throw line (57.7%). The Lakers made 32 of 45 (71.1%), with O'Neal making 12 of 21 and Kobe Bryant making 10 of 11.

"We missed a lot of free throws, but I don't think it was jitters," Harris said. "I'm not concerned about free throws. We just had a terrible first quarter."

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