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Lakers lose to Nets

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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (AP) _ Jason Kidd had 27 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists as the New Jersey Nets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers _ the team that swept them in last season's NBA finals _ 98-71 Thursday night.

The loss was the 17th of the season for the three-time defending champions, who lost a total of 24 games last season.

They are 2-12 on the road, including 0-6 in the East, and have shown a propensity to don a dour demeanor and go through the motions nearly every time an opponent takes a sizable lead.

On this night, Shaquille O'Neal scored 10 of his 19 points in the third quarter as the Lakers whittled an early 17-point deficit down to eight. But Jason Kidd squashed their momentum, taking over late in the third and early in the fourth to turn the game into a blowout.

Kidd had 27 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for the Nets. Lucious Harris scored 19 and Kenyon Martin 16 as New Jersey improved 13-1 at home.

In the night's only other game, San Antonio beat Sacramento 83-81 to spoil the Kings' perfect home record.

The events of last June were still on the minds of the Nets as they played before their first sellout crowd of the season, but New Jersey bore little resemblance to the squad that went down so humbly in the championship series.

``We as a team understand what happened last year, but this was a regular-season game,'' Kidd said. ``Everybody is talking about revenge, but this was more or less trying to protect home court and trying to get off a two-game losing skid.''

The Lakers certainly didn't show any of the form that led them to three consecutive NBA championships, but that's nothing new for a team that's experiencing more hardship this season than it has in years.

Kobe Bryant was 5-for-18 in the first half and finished with 21 points on 8-for-29 shooting, while O'Neal took only seven shots in the first half against New Jersey's double- and triple-coverage.

Coach Phil Jackson, who said before the game that reaching 20 losses would be ``devastating,'' credited his team afterward for playing with a competitive edge.

For those more accustomed to seeing the Lakers' competitive edge lead to dominating victories, Jackson's remarks were hard to fathom.

Just six months ago, the Lakers were so confident and full of swagger that it was almost unfair to their competition.

Now, they're reaching to find positives while they plunge lower and lower in the Western Conference standings.

The talk in the Los Angeles locker room afterward included discussion of possible roster moves, with a growing sense among the players that a shakeup might be in store unless the Lakers turn things around in a hurry.

``We've been in all types of pressure-filled situations before, we're just carrying around all this extra weight. Whatever it is, we can't seem to dump it off our backs,'' Brian Shaw said.

Referee Joey Crawford helped the Nets get a five-point play early in the second quarter. Rodney Rogers was fouled by Robert Horry on a drive to the basket, and official Violet Palmer waved the shot off.

Crawford, however, overruled her and counted the basket. As Rogers sank the foul shot to complete a three-point play, Crawford whistled technical fouls on Jackson and Horry. Kidd made both free throws for a 28-20 lead.

New Jersey stretched its advantage to 42-25 on an alley-oop dunk from Kidd to Richard Jefferson, and Kidd made two jumpers and drew a charge in the final 2 minutes of the third to help the Nets take a 68-59 lead into the fourth.

O'Neal started the fourth quarter with a dunk to make it 68-61, but Jefferson hit two foul shots, Kidd made consecutive jumpers and Rodney Rogers scored inside to put the Nets ahead by 15. New Jersey went on to outscore the Lakers 30-12 in the quarter to account for the final 27-point margin.

``It's another victory that helps our home record and gets us going again,'' Jefferson said. ``This game did not give us any redemption for losing in the finals last season.''

Spurs 83, Kings 81

At Sacramento, Calif., Tim Duncan had 23 points and 14 rebounds as San Antonio handed the Kings their first home loss in 14 games and ruined Mike Bibby's return.

Stephen Jackson scored 18 points as the Spurs followed a victory in Seattle by winning in the NBA's toughest road arena one night later.

Bibby missed the Kings' first 27 games after breaking his foot in the preseason, but he got a raucous standing ovation at the first mention of his name at Arco Arena. He hit a long jumper on Sacramento's first possession and finished with 17 points.

Chris Webber had 23 points and 12 rebounds.
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