Wednesday, June 12
Updated: June 13, 12:56 AM ET
Nets: Too much Shaq, not enough support

Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- No matter what Kenyon Martin and Jason Kidd did in the NBA Finals, it just wasn't enough to overcome Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Keith Van Horn
Keith Van Horn managed just 42 points in the NBA Finals.

Having a couple of New Jersey Nets teammates come up small in the sweep hurt almost as much after the Lakers won their third straight title with a 113-107 victory Wednesday night.

"The stat sheet will tell you that,'' Martin said when asked whether some of his teammates didn't play with heart. "We had guys that didn't bring it.''

Martin didn't name names after his two-year-best 35-point performance, but it was obvious he was pointing to Keith Van Horn, who had 42 points in the series.

Kidd, the engineer behind the turnaround season that saw the Nets go from missing the playoffs to the NBA Finals, added 13 points, 12 assists and five rebounds.

However, Kidd refused to be drawn into the emerging controversy, although he admitted Martin was correct on some points.

Nets coach Byron Scott said the sweep did not take away from what the Nets accomplished in the season that saw them go from 26 wins a year ago to the NBA Finals.

"Obviously I am hurt and disappointed but I am proud of my guys,'' Scott said. "They have been fantastic this season. I told them to hold their heads high because they went further than anyone expected.''

Scott could not say enough about Kidd and Martin, who had 61 points the last two games.

"Jason Kidd is the best point guard in this league and one of the top five players in this league,'' Scott said. "Kenyon has the potential to be an All-Star and showed the last two games what kind of player he can be if he develops.''

In being swept by the Lakers in the best-of-seven series, the Nets seemingly closed the gap with the now three-time defending champions with each game.

However, the teams could have played a dozen games and the result would have been the same every time. New Jersey just could not stop Shaq.

"We played good enough to beat 99 percent of the teams in the NBA in these four games,'' rookie Richard Jefferson said. "They're a tough team to go against.''

O'Neal had 34 points and 10 rebounds in leading this group of Lakers to the second three-peat in franchise history.

When the Nets found ways to slow O'Neal down, all it did was open up things for Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox and Robert Horry.

Martin, who also had 11 rebounds in Game 4, almost single-handedly kept the Nets in the game, hitting 15-of-28 from the floor.

"I was trying to do everything in my power to win,'' Martin said. "We jumped on them and were aggressive but they sustained it. You have to take the good with the bad.''

Martin's jumper with just over six minutes to play, pulled the Nets within one at 94-93, but that would be as close as they would get as Fisher hit a free throw and a jumper from the corner to break the game open.

Van Horn finished with seven points. Kerry Kittles had 11 and center Todd MacCulloch added eight in fighting a losing battle against O'Neal.

Lucious Harris finally broke out of his slump, scoring 22 points, but it just wasn't enough for the Nets.

"We just felt like we were going to keep fighting and fighting,'' Harris said. "We got close and they hit shots down the stretch. I guess that's what a championship team does down the stretch.''

Series Page


O'Neal, Jackson make history in Lakers' three-peat

Shaq joins MJ as back-to-back-to-back MVPs

Bembry: With Shaq, Kobe, Lakers always title favorites

Bucher: Lakers bench finally did its part

Dr. Jack: Shaq, Lakers were in a zone

Frozen Moment: Kobe silences the Swamp

Lakers fans behave, celebrate team's three-peat

Jackson nearly overwhelmed by all his winning

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