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Updated: Thursday, December 19, 2002 11:47 PM EST
NBA RECAP
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New Jersey 98, La Lakers 71
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Los Angeles Lakers
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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- A return engagement with the New Jersey Nets did nothing to lift the lackluster Los Angeles Lakers.

Jason Kidd had 27 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists while totally controlling the game as the Nets rolled to a 98-71 victory over the Lakers, whose road woes continued.

Led by Kidd, the Nets made a stunning run last season to the NBA Finals, where they were swept by the Lakers. Neither team has been as sharp this season, but the Lakers clearly have bigger issues.

"All the bounces we're used to getting, we're not used to getting right now," Lakers guard Brian Shaw said. "It's going to take more effort to make those things start happening our way."

"We've been impatient with each other," forward Rick Fox added. "We've been maybe a little too patient in what we suspect would be a natural turnaround. I thought we played hard tonight, but it did not equate to a win. We have to get better as a team."

While the Nets remained hot at home with their eighth straight win at Continental Airlines Arena, the Lakers have dropped the first two games of their four-game trip to fall to an awful 2-12 on the road.

Last season, Los Angeles (10-17) also suffered its 12th road loss in New Jersey - on April 3.

In front of a sellout crowd and a national TV audience, the three-time defending champions appeared disinterested and listless, falling behind early and never really getting back into the game. They shot just 30 percent (29-of-96) from the field and repeatedly were beaten on defense.

"As a coaching staff, I think we're in a situation where we question our own selves," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

Superstar center Shaquille O'Neal started slowly and never was a factor, scoring 19 points with just four rebounds. Superstar guard Kobe Bryant made just 8-of-29 shots and scored 21 points.

O'Neal and Bryant were the only Lakers in double figures as the rest of the roster combined for just 31 points, none on free throws. Their total was the second-lowest since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1960, barely surpassing a 70 at Cleveland earlier this year.

"My teammates were looking for me to be aggressive," Bryant said. "It takes a lot of pressure off of them. I try to stick and pull a lot of my shots. The ball was just going in and coming out. They did a good job defensively making me take tough shots." "Some of our players played tense and tight and as a result, we were just unable to make the right plays at the right time," Jackson added.

Kidd was phenomenal, making 12-of-20 shots and adding three steals. He fueled a surge in the second quarter that opened a 17-point lead and another in the final period that put away the game.

"What can you say about Jason?" Nets coach Byron Scott said. "The kid brings it every night. That is one thing about Jason, he does not take the night off. He is relentless as far as attacking people. When he gets it in his mind to put in full gear, there is nobody better."

Lucious Harris scored 19 points and a resurgent Rodney Rogers and Kenyon Martin added 16 each for the Nets, who shot 45.5 percent (40-of-88) and improved to 13-1 at home.

"This is a very big win after the last two games," Scott said. "There was a tremendous effort on our part and we sustained it for 48 minutes against a great team."

In a sign of things to come, the Lakers made just 6-of-22 shots in the first quarter and fell behind, 21-18. They still were within 28-25 on a layup by Robert Horry with 8:16 left in the second period before Kidd found Rogers for a 3-pointer that started a 14-0 burst.

Rogers and Kidd each had five points in the run. Jefferson slammed home an alley-oop pass from Kidd for a 42-25 lead with 4:40 to go.

O'Neal and Bryant showed some life and rallied LA within 46-37 at halftime. O'Neal scored 10 points in the third quarter, but the rest of the Lakers were listless and they got no closer than seven points.

A dunk by O'Neal opened the third quarter and cut the deficit to 68-61. Jefferson hit two free throws and Kidd made a pair of jumpers before Rogers scored for a 76-61 lead. After Bryant put home a banker, Kidd twice drove for hoops to give New Jersey an 80-63 bulge with 7:22 to play.

The Lakers surrendered shortly thereafter and were outscored, 30-12, in the period.

Jefferson scored 11 points, Aaron Williams grabbed 10 rebounds and Martin pulled down nine for the Nets. Horry swept 11 boards for the Lakers.

"It is just another victory against a great opponent," Jefferson said. "This game did not give us any redemption for losing in the Finals last season. They are a good team. If they make the playoffs, I still believe they will come out of the West."


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