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Updated: Thursday, February 6, 2003 12:38 AM EST
NBA RECAP
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New Jersey 111, Philadelphia 85
NEW JERSEY NETS
New Jersey Nets
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PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
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PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Nets played so well, it was hardly noticed that Kenyon Martin did not return to the court.

Kerry Kittles scored a season-high 35 points to lead six players in double figures as the Nets overcame the loss of Martin and rolled to a 111-85 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the final game before the All-Star break for both teams.

Martin entered as the league's hottest player, averaging 26.5 points and 15.3 rebounds in his last four games. But he sprained his left knee late in the first quarter and never returned after the start of the second.

"I don't know how bad it is, but I think it's just a sprain," New Jersey coach Byron Scott said. "It's a good time for the break for us. Hopefully, he'll be fine. He'll come in for treatment and we'll take it from there. I don't think it's real serious, but you never know."

"We just tried to maintain our aggression," Kittles said. "Whenever a guy is down, you have other guys who can step in and make plays for us. It allowed us to play our style of play even though guys are banged up."

The Sixers had a 24-23 lead after Aaron McKie drained a jumper at the first-quarter buzzer and the teams traded baskets twice to start the second.

Lucious Harris buried a jumper 95 seconds into the quarter to give New Jersey the lead for good and spark a decisive 24-3 run. Aaron Williams scored eight points and Kittles and Richard Jefferson had six apiece during the spurt, which gave the Nets a 51-31 cushion at the four-minute mark.

Williams scored 10 of his 12 points in the quarter and Kittles and Jefferson each added eight. New Jersey made 12-of-18 shots in the period and had a 57-43 halftime cushion.

Philadelphia, which made just 6-of-22 shots in the decisive quarter, got no closer than 12 points in the second half.

"In the second quarter, we couldn't make a shot," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "They made them and we got real discouraged. We didn't match their energy, they executed great. They put on a clinic."

Kittles, who scored 14 points in the third quarter, made 12-of-18 shots from the floor. He buried 5-of-8 3-pointers and all six of his free throws to eclipse his previous season high by 13 points.

"(I had) pretty good rhythm from behind the arc," he said. "I felt good about myself and had a good flow going - (Jason) Kidd finding me in transition and I was able to knock down shots."

Jason Collins scored 13 points and Brian Scalabrine collected 12, eight rebounds and five assists for the Nets, who shot 55 percent (38-of-69) from the floor, 9-of-18 from 3-point range and made 26-of-28 free throws.

Kidd played despite the flu and had eight points, six assists and seven rebounds for New Jersey, which enters the break tied with Indiana for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

"I felt pretty good," Kidd said. "I didn't know what to expect. I was just happy to be able to help the guys out in any way I could. It gives us confidence to end the first half of the season on a good note and finishing on top of the Eastern Conference."

"With all the situations we've had this season with our injuries, to be two games better at this particular time than we were last year sure says a lot about our team," Scott added. "We're looking forward to the second half."

All-Star Allen Iverson scored 28 points and former Net Keith Van Horn collected 16 and 11 rebounds for the Sixers, who shot 39 percent (29-of-75) and lost for the ninth time in their last 11 home games.

"This is supposed to be the place you play where everything goes your way," Iverson said. "This is where you get all your momentum from. This is where your fans are at. Everything is for you at home. We get all the support of all these people that come out and see us night after night. It is just frustrating, it is a bad thing for them to have to watch."

"We've got a week. The worst thing is when you have a week," Brown said. "Maybe it will be helpful if you have a week to think about this and realize what we have to do. We can't play like this and expect to be successful. We have to do better."

Iverson scored 11 points in the first quarter, which featured six ties and eight lead changes. The teams traded the lead five times in the final 2:39, with McKie's jumper putting the Sixers ahead heading into the second.

Van Horn scored Philadelphia's first two baskets of the second period and buried a runner to give the Sixers their last lead at 28-27.


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