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Game 4 Report

Charting The Lead: A look at the Lakers' lead or deficit by the minute

June 13, 2002|Elliott Teaford | Times Staff Writer


Highlight reel: So which was the team with the three-games-to-none lead again? Oh, right. The Nets came out and played like a team brimming with confidence instead of a club derided as perhaps the most overmatched opponent in Finals history. Kenyon Martin was unstoppable, making short jump shots, hooks and banks. He even made a shot from beyond the free-throw line, when he was left by himself. He torched the Lakers, and Robert Horry in particular, scoring 17 points on eight-for-13 shooting in leading the Nets to their best quarter of the Finals. Too little too late?

Not in the box score: Where was this spark to start the series? The Nets finally looked relaxed and reaped the benefits of their newfound confidence. With nothing to lose, they played as if the game meant nothing. No pressure, no nerves, no reasons to be uptight. They seemed to be having fun at last. There was little doubt that the Lakers and the pressure of the Finals got to the Nets in the first three games.

Winning number: Martin's 17 points.

Wrong number: Net center Todd MacCulloch picked up two quick fouls.

Leading scorers: Lakers--Shaquille O'Neal 12, Kobe Bryant 6; Nets--Martin 17, Kerry Kittles 5.

Leading rebounders: Lakers--O'Neal 4; Nets--Martin, MacCulloch and Keith Van Horn 2.



Highlight reel: The Lakers awoke with a start to open this quarter, erasing what had been a double-digit deficit late in the first quarter. As ever, O'Neal led them, but Devean George entered the game and made it clear he wished to return to Southern California as soon as possible. George made a three-point basket that got the Lakers within 39-37. Later, he made a jumper and another three-pointer, putting the Lakers ahead, 52-47. They held the lead for the rest of this quarter, but couldn't pull away, as the Nets scored the last five points.

Not in the box score: The Lakers' resolve has been tested repeatedly during this postseason. To be sure, they have won consistently in the playoffs but have rarely routed opponents. This quarter figured to be a pivotal one. With the Nets surging to start the game, the Lakers needed to keep their razor-sharp focus if they hoped to put the finishing touches on the series and take their first Finals sweep.

Winning numbers: The Lakers held Martin to one point in eight minutes.

Wrong numbers: The Nets were outrebounded (again!), 12-9.

Leading scorers: Lakers--George 8, O'Neal 6; Nets--Lucious Harris 9, Richard Jefferson 5.

Leading rebounders: Lakers--George 4; Nets--Jason Kidd 3, Martin 2.



Highlight reel: With his team teetering on the brink late in this quarter, trailing by eight points, Kidd went to work. He made one jump shot, then another with a sweet kiss off the backboard. A third jumper moments before the buzzer was off the mark. That said a great deal about Kidd and the Nets in the final analysis. They were good enough to get this far, but when it came to doing some damage, taking a game from the Lakers, for instance, they came up short. Kidd led the Nets to their first appearance in the Finals, but he didn't have quite enough help to get past the Lakers.

Not in the box score: Like three teams before them, the Nets had no answer for O'Neal. He was too big, too strong and too skilled. The Nets' collapsing zone troubled the Lakers for short stretches, but O'Neal never pressed the issue. When he was well defended, he merely slipped the ball to the perimeter, and Robert Horry and Rick Fox made the shots that kept the Lakers in front.

Winning number: The Lakers' eight-for-16 shooting.

Wrong number: The Nets' nine-for-24 shooting.

Leading scorers: Lakers--O'Neal 10, Horry 7; Nets--Kidd and Kittles 6.

Leading rebounders: Lakers--O'Neal 4, Derek Fisher 3; Nets--Martin 5, MacCulloch 4.



Highlight reel: Bryant gliding toward the hoop, slicing past Harris and dropping in a layup that gave the Lakers a 104-95 lead with 3:32 to play. Timeout, Nets. O'Neal tosses in short jumper in the lane. Another timeout. The end is at hand. The three-peat has been accomplished. Anyone for four in a row? It's not out of the question. With a little fine-tuning, the Lakers could go for four, five, six, maybe more. The best could be still to come. No one has a combo quite like O'Neal and Bryant, a point that has become more and more evident.

Not in the box score: Coach Phil Jackson's classy move to get Mitch Richmond into the game for the final minute. Richmond played only a few seconds of the series against Sacramento. After 14 seasons of mostly losing basketball, Richmond finally is a champion. He made a short jump shot for the Lakers' last points and, more importantly, drew the honor of dribbling away the final seconds.

Winning number: Three-peat, the Lakers' first in Los Angeles and second in franchise history.

Wrong number: Zero, the number of Net victories.

Leading scorers: Lakers--Bryant 11, O'Neal 6; Nets--Martin 13, Harris 11.

Leading rebounders: Lakers--Bryant 3, George and O'Neal 2; Nets--Jason Collins 3, Martin and Jefferson 2.

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