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NET NOTES

Same Question Swamps Scott

June 08, 2002|Elliott Teaford

A throng of reporters from around the world wondered whether New Jersey Net Coach Byron Scott would change his solo coverage on Laker center Shaquille O'Neal for Game 2. Scott smiled broadly when the first question was asked.

"You think I'm going to sit here and tell you, right?" he said, chuckling. "OK. I've also got some property in the swamp I want to sell you, too...."

Another reporter spoke up. "Actually, I had the same question," the fellow said.

To which Scott managed to say above the rising laughter, "I've got the same answer for you too. Next question?"

A few minutes later, someone else wished to talk about the Nets' plans for O'Neal on Friday. "Just to clarify, you're going to play Shaq straight up?"

Said Scott: "Did I say that?"

Adopting a more serious tone, he praised Jason Collins, who had perhaps the best success of any of the three centers whom Scott played. O'Neal had 36 points and 16 rebounds in Game 1.

"I thought Jason Collins did a terrific job," Scott said. "I thought he did a better job of keeping his body on Shaq than Aaron [Williams] and Todd [MacCulloch]. Will he play more? Probably.

"As far as playing single coverage or double- or triple-teaming Shaq, like I said, I've got some property in New Jersey that I'd like you to see."

When the game began, MacCulloch matched up against O'Neal. The one-on-one strategy didn't pan out, however, with O'Neal scoring 12 points on five-of-seven shooting in the opening quarter.

Williams and Collins tried to check O'Neal and met with similarly unsuccessful results. O'Neal had 23 points and the Lakers led, 49-43.

*

The Nets vowed to play better in the first quarter Friday than they did in the opening 12 minutes Wednesday in Game 1. They were every bit as bad, however. They trailed, 29-14, in Game 1, making six of 22 shots (27.3%). They trailed, 27-21, in Game 2, making six of 25 shots (24%).

"I think we're over it," reserve guard Lucious Harris had said before the game when asked about the Nets' first-quarter woes. "We'll see in Game 2. I think that we will come out a little better in Game 2."

*

It took 22 years for one of the four former American Basketball Assn. teams to advance to the NBA Finals. But the Nets became the third ABA team in four seasons to make it to the championship round, following the Spurs in 1999 and the Pacers in 2000.

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