NBA

Lakers beat Nets with defense


Published: Monday, March 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 29, 2004 at 11:33 p.m.

There was no Lawrence Frank magic in the Meadowlands Sunday night.

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Los Angeles Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal dunks the ball during the fourth quarter against the New Jersey Nets, Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J. O'Neal led the Lakers with 19 points and 14 rebounds as they beat the Nets 100-83.

The Associated Press

Instead, the new New Jersey Nets looked very much like the old New Jersey Nets, unable to play a half-court game, frustrated by poor perimeter shooting and absorbing a 100-83 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

It was Frank's first home loss. After winning his first 13 games, he is 1-2 in the past three.

"Blame me for the open shots they had," Frank said. "We laid off guys outside as a concession to Shaq. You choose your poison and tonight it was the wrong choice."

The Lakers didn't need a special performance from Shaquille O'Neal (19 points) or Kobe Bryant (11) on a night when they spread the ball, controlled the tempo and led from wire to wire.

Through three quarters, the Nets were shooting 30 percent and only Richard Jefferson (19 points) seemed able to operate at his usual efficiency. Jason Kidd was 4-for-11 and had just 10 points; Kenyon Martin had 11 in just 29 minutes.

Kidd played only 28 and Frank said he shouldn't have played even that much because of a bruised knee. Frank said Kidd would have an MRI Monday and that his status is uncertain as the Nets prepare to open a four-game Western swing Tuesday at Denver.

If this game was supposed to be a Finals preview, perhaps the NBA will be hoping that the Detroit Pistons or Indiana Pacers represent the East. The Nets, unable to match up inside with Martin in foul trouble and lacking the energy to defend on the arc, were no problem for the Lakers, who might not even be the best team in the West.

"Give the Lakers credit," Frank said. "We just didn't get it done. The Lakers were better tonight. We'll have to get better tomorrow."

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