This was supposed to be the night Stephon Marbury got his sweet revenge.
This was the night somebody was going to pay for making him waste 2½ years of his career in Jersey. Remember what happened the first time he faced the T-Wolves as a Net? Thirty-nine, kid.
After being booed lustily during player introductions, Marbury stood with his back to the Nets as they were being announced, bobbing his head from side to side like a boxer trying to get loose. Before the opening tip he jogged to the Nets bench and hugged Kenyon Martin, then assistant coach Eddie Jordan. He weakly clapped Keith Van Horn five without making eye contact.
His look was pure intensity. He didn't say a word. This was a man on a mission.
Twenty-seven seconds into the game, it started to come apart. Martin rejected his first shot and the crowd chipped away at Marbury's stony facade with boos and catcalls. That, Marbury could deal with.
Jason Kidd was a whole other matter. The former Suns guard was on a mission of his own. "I wanted to make a statement," said Kidd. "I wanted to beat them without me scoring." A zero-double-double? Kidd had seven assists, three boards and zero points at the half.
This night was about Jason Kidd, not Marbury.
The infectious energy Kidd's Nets played with was something Marbury could never get his Nets to do -- you actually have to speak to your teammates first. Last season, Marbury wrote "All Alone 33" on his ankle tape. And that's just where they left him. Kidd's Nets dove for loose balls, got a hand on nearly every missed shot and seemed to never touch the ground all night.
Late in the third quarter, Kidd was forced to knock down a pair of open 3-pointers to boost the Nets lead to 20. After the second he backpedaled, staring at the Suns bench for a good 10 seconds. Not at the players, mind you, just at coach Scott Skiles and his assistants. At the end of the quarter he ran by the Suns bench and screamed "We're beating the s--- out of you!"
In the middle of the fourth quarter, Marbury was done for the night with a towel and John Wallace's arm draped over his back. "Don't worry, boy," comforted Wallace.
After the game, Kidd held court with about 50 reporters. He praised his teammates repeatedly and congratulated the fans. When asked about Suns coaches and management, Kidd replied, "I had fun kicking their asses." He smiled, winked and wished everyone a good night.
On the other side of the building, Marbury snapped: "The jig is up. I ain't talking to nobody."
The locker room emptied as he got dressed, leaving Stephon Marbury in a familiar place. All alone in New Jersey.
E-mail Chris Palmer at email@example.com.
Kidd lifts Nets over Marbury's Suns
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