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Updated: Saturday, December 7, 2002 11:49 PM EST
NBA RECAP
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New Jersey 121, Orlando 88
ORLANDO MAGIC
Orlando Magic
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NEW JERSEY NETS
New Jersey Nets
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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Nets had their best offensive game of the season after one of the worst starts possible.

Richard Jefferson scored 19 points and Rodney Rogers had a season-high 17 as the Nets overcame a sluggish beginning and rolled to a 121-88 rout of the Orlando Magic.

After a three-day layoff, New Jersey looked rusty early in the first, going scoreless in the opening three minutes as Orlando jumped out to a 10-0 lead. But the Nets outscored the Magic by 43 points thereafter and posted their highest scoring game of the season.

"It was a good job by our guys to come back from 10 points to start the game," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "We missed some layups early, but I think we just continued to get up on these guys and contested every shot."

"You know we're going to score, we're never worried about that," Jefferson said. "But they came out ready to play. Once we matched their intensity they kind of just let us go."

After making just three of its first 13 shots, New Jersey made 22 of its last 30 in the first half and led 58-38 at intermission. Jefferson scored 12 points and Harris had 11 of his 15 in the first 24 minutes.

Jason Kidd scored eight points in the third period and Rogers had seven in the fourth as New Jersey pulled away. The Nets had their largest lead at 112-75 on jumper by Anthony Johnson with 6:28 to play.

Rogers, who struggled in his first month with the Nets, made 6-of-8 shots and all four of his 3-pointers. He also collected seven rebounds and six assists.

"Rodney has played fantastic in the last three games," Scott said. "It really started to look like he understood what we wanted to do on the offense. It is very seldom now when it looks like he has any doubts. He looks real comfortable now and his shots are starting to fall."

"I've pretty much been comfortable, it is just that I haven't been making my shots, shots I normally knock down," Rogers said. "I am my worst critic, so I've been really hard on myself. If I play defense and rebound the ball, the scoring will come."

Kidd had 15 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds for the Nets, who set a season-best with 33 assists and committed a season-low 10 turnovers.

New Jersey shot a season-high 55 percent (48-of-88) from the floor, including 11-of-20 from 3-point range, and scored its most points since posting 123 in a win over Golden State on February 19.

Rookie Tamar Slay scored a season-high 14 points and Jason Collins had 11 as the Nets improved to 9-1 at Continental Airlines Arena.

Grant Hill scored 20 points and Tracy McGrady had 16 on 4-of-20 shooting as the Magic lost their fourth straight meeting with the Nets.

Orlando shot just 37 percent (30-of-81) from the floor and lost for the second time in seven games.

"That was ugly," Magic coach Doc Rivers said. "It had nothing to do with us playing last night and the Nets having three days off. The difference was that the Nets competed and we did not."

Shawn Kemp opened the game with a long jump shot for the Magic and Mike Miller followed with a 3-pointer before Hill buried a turnaround jumper. Pat Garrity added a 3-pointer 2:44 into the game, forcing the Nets to take an early timeout.

"Downhill from there," Hill said. "They just kicked our butts. I thought we used fatigue as an excuse. When we got down, we just said 'Oh we're tired. So be it.' And that was really disappointing."

"We led by 10, relaxed a bit and then they cut the lead quick," Rivers said. "(The Nets) scored on a lot of effort plays and got all the loose balls and were more aggressive."

Harris scored seven consecutive points following the timeout to spark New Jersey's rally. Kidd made his first basket to forge a 17-17 tie with 2:10 left and gave the Nets the lead for good on a jumper 38 seconds later.


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