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Nets stop McGrady, Magic

©Associated Press

December 8, 2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kenyon Martin is considered one of the top five defenders in the league. Just ask him.

"I've been that, I just ain't made (the All-Defensive Team). I've been preaching that since my rookie year," Martin said.

Martin backed up his argument by shutting down Tracy McGrady as the Nets were building a big early lead in a 121-88 victory over the Magic on Saturday night.

Martin held McGrady to 0-for-7 shooting in the first quarter and 2-for-13 shooting by halftime as New Jersey rebounded from a quick 10-0 deficit and opened a 20-point lead by halftime.

It was the latest installment of Martin, who is known more nationally for his temper than defensive talent, shutting down an opposing team's best offensive player.

"I don't think there's anybody around the league who has done a better defensive job," teammate Richard Jefferson said.

Martin did the same this season against Tim Duncan and Rasheed Wallace, and this time it was McGrady who could never get untracked.

"He plays hard and is physical," Orlando coach Doc Rivers. "It's almost like he's taking the heart from our guys."

Jason Kidd had 15 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter. Jefferson scored 19, Rodney Rogers had 17, Lucious Harris 15 and rookie Tamar Slay added a career-high 14 in the Nets' highest scoring game of the season.

Grant Hill scored 20 for the Magic, which was playing the second night of a back-to-back set and seemed to lose energy after the early lead disappeared.

"As soon as a team hits us, it seems we get tired and use it as an excuse to cave in," Hill said.

McGrady finished 4-for-20 from the field for 16 points, nine coming in the third after the Nets were in control. He was hesitant to credit Martin, saying he remains slowed by a sore ankle.

"It's not a tough matchup. I've faced him so many times," McGrady said. "It was one of those nights when you're not making shots."

Though Orlando scored the first 10, the double-digit lead was gone by the end of the first quarter as New Jersey led 24-21 going into the second.

That's when the Nets were all but unstoppable, using 15-for-21 shooting to build a 58-38 halftime lead.

Kidd closed the quarter with two nifty passes, the first a lob ahead of the field to Jefferson for a breakaway dunk; the second an alley-oop toss to Martin with a dunk.

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