In loss, Wizards' Jordan sees Kidd in a new light

Former Nets assistant gets 30-point show, 98-85

November 02, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - For two years, Eddie Jordan had a front-row seat to the magic that Jason Kidd can produce on a basketball court, as lead assistant coach of the New Jersey Nets.

Jordan had a front-row seat again last night, this time as the new head coach of the Washington Wizards, and he didn't at all like what he saw. Kidd provided a clinic of point guard play, pacing the Nets to a 98-85 win over the Wizards in their home opener.

Kidd had a game-high 30 points and took over in the fourth quarter, hitting a back-breaking pair of three-pointers as the Wizards threatened to challenge the defending two-time NBA Eastern Conference champions.

As if that weren't enough, Kidd, who had nine assists and five rebounds, assisted on a layup by Brandon Armstrong with just under eight minutes left, after he took a pass away from Wizards rookie Jarvis Hayes.

Two minutes later, Kidd essentially settled the contest, knifing through the lane, then hitting Kerry Kittles with a no-look pass for a three-point play and an 85-73 lead.

"We did a pretty good job in our zone defense," Jordan said. "But the best players find holes and find ways to beat the zone. Whatever you throw at Jason Kidd, he's going to find a way to beat you. ... We just don't have anyone like that."

Said reserve forward Jared Jeffries: "He's a great player, and that's what he gets paid to do. He killed a lot of our runs by hitting big threes. He wouldn't shoot the ball for five or six times, but then he would pull up at the top of the key and hit a shot."

The Wizards (1-2) took to a new MCI Center floor last night, pledging to be a new team with new energy. With all references to the Michael Jordan era wiped away, and a new coach and point guard, Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards have their new team.

As for the new energy, well, the Wizards appear better able to run the floor with teams like New Jersey (2-1). But their youth, with only two players on the roster over 30 (Christian Laettner and Chris Whitney), led them astray last night, as they committed 22 turnovers.

The Washington starting backcourt of Arenas and Larry Hughes combined to shoot 9-for-22 and Jordan singled them out after the game for losing faith in his Princeton-style offense, which has been the engine driving the Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances.

"They knew [what the Wizards were doing]," Hughes said. "During the game, they didn't run a lot of their stuff to perfection. They have been doing it so long where if something breaks down, they know which way to go. They didn't get to a lot of their sets that they like to run because we knew them and we were jumping to where they wanted to be. We're not as clean as they are yet."

Said Kidd: "They're running a new offense, so it's going to take time for them to get familiar and comfortable with it. As the season goes on, they are going to get better and understand when to get their shot. I was in that position."

Hayes had 16 points to lead the Wizards, playing without leading scorer Jerry Stackhouse (knee). New Jersey's Richard Jefferson had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Brian Scalabrine had 12 points filling in for the injured Kenyon Martin, who sprained an ankle in Friday night's win.

The Wizards' second unit of Whitney, Laettner, Jeffries, Juan Dixon and Etan Thomas came through big for Washington with a 10-0 run in the third quarter to get the previously lifeless home team back into the game and slice what had been a 14-point deficit to four.

But Kidd's personally led 9-2 run to start the fourth sealed the matter for the Nets.

"The game plan was to get up and pressure the wings and pressure the ball and deny the ball. Our starters didn't do it," Jordan said. "They didn't follow the game plan and our bench did, and that's why they were much more competitive than our starters."

Next for Wizards

Opponent: Dallas Mavericks

Site: MCI Center, Washington

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WTEM (980 AM)

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