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Devil Will Be in the Details for Game 4

June 12, 2002|Elliott Teaford

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Nets said Tuesday they would like to prolong the inevitable at least until Game 5 on Friday. However, they were more than a little hazy about the details when asked how to defeat the Lakers tonight in Game 4.

A loss tonight would end the Nets' first NBA Finals experience after only four games and no doubt prompt comparisons to the most one-sided championship series in league history. There hasn't been a Finals sweep since 1995, when the Houston Rockets dispatched the Orlando Magic.

"I don't know," guard Kerry Kittles said when asked how the Nets could better contain Shaquille O'Neal, who is averaging 37 points, and Kobe Bryant, averaging 27.3.

"We did a lot of good things in Game 3. Shaq was himself. Kobe was himself. They are two dominating players."

Bryant led the Lakers with 36 points and O'Neal had 35 in the Lakers' 106-103 victory Sunday in Game 3.

"I don't know," Kittles said when asked whether the Nets' lack of playoff experience has doomed them to defeat against the two-time defending champion Lakers. "They're a good team. They're an underrated defensive team. They take you out of most of the things you want to do. Their experience helps them. It's something you have to deal with. That team has a ton of experience."

Forward Keith Van Horn dismissed any talk of the Nets' inexperience contributing to their loss Sunday.

"I felt we missed a steal on Kobe," Van Horn said, referring to Bryant's jump shot with 19 seconds to play after splitting a double-team of Kittles and Jason Kidd.

"We missed a couple of late shots. I don't know if that's inexperience or just the way the ball bounces."


The Nets have lost the first three games of the Finals, but at least they haven't lost their sense of humor. Coach Byron Scott had this to say about the inexperience of his big men, who have been overwhelmed by O'Neal:

"We don't have a Vlade Divac [Sacramento's wily center]. We don't have a 7-foot-1 guy who's agile, who can score from the outside and inside, who's been in Hollywood for a long time so he understands the acting roles and all that stuff.

"Todd [MacCulloch] and Aaron [Williams] and Twin [Jason Collins], they're not hip to that stuff yet. They don't understand how to flop. I'm going to send them to Vlade School this summer for acting lessons and see if we can get them a little better at it."


Scott also hasn't given up his hope for an unprecedented comeback.

"You know, we win a game and then we win the next game, then it's a series again," he said. "Then you never know what happens. That's what we want to do. We want to prolong this thing because you never know what's going to happen. Guys get hurt. Guys get bumps and bruises. Guys are all of a sudden not playing as well. They start losing their confidence. The longer we prolong the series, the better chance we have of winning it."

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