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Updated: Friday, February 14, 2003 11:58 PM EST
NBA RECAP
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New Jersey 90, Chicago 72
CHICAGO BULLS
Chicago Bulls
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NEW JERSEY NETS
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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Kerry Kittles, Richard Jefferson and the New Jersey Nets took out their frustrations on the Chicago Bulls.

Kittles scored 21 points and Jefferson 20 as the Nets easily handed the Bulls their eighth straight defeat, 90-72.

The Nets looked lethargic in losing their first two games after the All-Star break, including Wednesday's 97-90 defeat at lowly Memphis in which they scored a franchise-low eight points in the first quarter.

But they wasted little time in getting untracked in this one, jumping out to a 20-8 lead behind eight points from Jefferson and taking a 25-14 lead into the second quarter.

"We were hurt early in transition," Bulls coach Bill Cartwright said. "Kerry Kittles scored 15 in the first half. Once we got behind, it was tough to try and scramble to get back into the game."

"There are so many games and you tend not to play up to your capabilites every night," Kittles said. "We did not panic. We just want to correct some things and try to rectify the team's spirit. We just want people playing up to their capabilities and have the right rhythm as a unit."

New Jersey held a 10-point halftime lead before using a 19-8 burst over the opening six minutes of the second half to take a 66-45 advantage. The Nets, who rested their starters for most of the fourth quarter, led by at least 16 points thereafter.

"That's a better effort for us tonight," said Nets point guard Jason Kidd, who scored only six points on 2-of-11 shooting but contributed 12 assists and six rebounds. "We got off to a good start in the first quarter and stayed in control for the rest of the game. RJ and Kittles played very well tonight. Hopefully, we can carry this game to the next one and play well on Sunday (vs. Philadelphia)."

New Jersey improved its league-best home mark to 23-2, while the Bulls fell to an NBA-worst 2-27 on the road.

Nets forward Kenyon Martin sat out with a sore left knee. He had been the only Net to play every game this season.

Chicago's Jalen Rose and rookie Jay Williams, a New Jersey native who had his high school jersey retired on Thursday, scored 13 points apiece but shot 6-of-18 and 6-of-15, respectively. The Bulls limited the Nets to 36 percent shooting (32-of-88) but connected at just 33 percent themselves (28-of-84).

"This was a little bit better, especially on the defensive end," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "I thought we got after it pretty good. That's what we're supposed to do each and every night. We still have a lot of work to do on the defensive end, and that's what we're focusing on for the next four or five weeks."

"Tonight, we looked upon ourselves as a better team than the way we have been playing," Kittles added. "We just needed to play better and be more consistent throughout the game. We wanted to get out there and pressure guys defensively a little more. And that's what we did."

The Nets converted 23 turnovers by the Bulls into 19 points, while Chicago scored just six points off 12 giveaways by New Jersey.

"To me, the Nets had a pretty good game," Rose said. "They ran their sets and kept the paint open, which allowed backdoor cuts, and that is what they'd like to do. We have to keep working hard and stay positive to stop this losing streak."


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