Sunday, June 09, 2002

Nets hope familiar surroundings help Martin, Van Horn



By JENNA FRYER
AP Sports Writer

        EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Nets arrived back in New Jersey early Saturday, hoping familiar territory would help turn around their spotty play in the NBA Finals.

        No one needs different surroundings more than Kenyon Martin and Keith Van Horn, who were practically invisible in Los Angeles' 106-83 victory in Game 2 Friday night and have no idea why their shots couldn't fall in the Staples Center.

        “I haven't noticed anything different, the basket is still 10 feet high and rim is the same circumference,” said Van Horn, who scored nine points in Game 2. “We just need to knock down shots, be more aggressive going to the hoop and attacking them and getting them in foul trouble.”

        Neither New Jersey forward has done much of that this series and will need to if the Nets have any chance of climbing out if the 0-2 hole in the best-of-seven series. Game 3 is Sunday night.

        Martin, New Jersey's leading scorer during the regular season, shot 2-for-8 in Game 2, scored six points and had as many fouls (five) as rebounds. In the Nets' two losses, he has a total of 11 rebounds and has shot just 30 percent.

        Van Horn has been no better, combining to shoot 8-for-23 with just 14 rebounds in the two games.

        Lakers coach Phil Jackson thought the poor play of New Jersey's frontcourt contributed to the Game 2 loss, but he expected the two forwards to pick it up in their own arena.

        “They were hampered by Martin being in foul trouble ... and Van Horn didn't have a good shooting night,” Jackson said. “There's a lot of things they can do at home. They feed off their home crowd, play well on their home court. We still have to touch and feel them and feel the game they play on their home court.”

        ———

        WHERE'S LUCIOUS? The Nets are also wondering what has happened to Lucious Harris, their offensive answer off the bench for so much of the regular season and the first three rounds of the playoffs.

        He's disappeared in the Finals, with his 0-for-9 Game 2 performance dropping him to 1-of-14 through two games.

        “Lucious Harris, he's a big part of our success,” said Nets coach Byron Scott. “We need him to get back to playing the way he's capable and knocking down shots.”

        Harris is hoping the shift in venues will help him find his shooting touch.

        “I'm still shooting the same way, they're just not going in,” he said. “Please, let's get out of here. Right now. Please, let's go back home and come Game 3, we still have a chance.”

        ———

        HISTORY ON LA'S SIDE: The Lakers know they are going to New Jersey with history on their side: Since the NBA went to the 2-3-2 format for the Finals, the home team has never won all three of the middle games.

        With Los Angeles needing just two wins to wrap up their third consecutive title, Jackson knows the Lakers could end the season in New Jersey this week.

        “We know what history means for us,” Jackson said. “Taking a 2-0 lead into New Jersey, it's going to be difficult for them to pull off a feat that's never been done.”

        Road teams have swept the middle three games before and Jackson's teams have done it twice — last season in Philadelphia and in 1991 when the Chicago Bulls won three straight against the Lakers.

        Also working in their favor is that 23 of the 25 teams who have taken a 2-0 lead in the Finals have gone on to win the championship.

        The last team to lose the first two games then rebound to win the title was the 1977 Portland Trailblazers, who dropped the first two games to Philadelphia before winning four straight.

        Still, Jackson is refusing to call the series over.

        “We haven't done anything yet,” he said. “We established the fact that we can win on our home court. Until someone loses on their court, this series is still tit-for-tat, so to speak.”

       



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