Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 14, 2003
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With the regular season winding down and first place in the Atlantic Division up for grabs, the Nets are showing signs that their recent slump may be over.
Lucious Harris broke out of a two-month shooting slump with 24 points, and the first-place Nets won consecutive games for the first time since mid February with a 90-75 win over the Celtics on Thursday night.
"I think the last two games, we understood what's at stake," Jason Kidd said after his 13-point, 12-assist, eight-rebound performance. "We put ourselves in this position. During the season you have your ups and downs. Now it's at the point where you can't have big downs."
The victory increased the Nets' lead in the Atlantic Division to two games over idle Philadelphia, and three games over Boston. New Jersey hosts the 76ers Sunday and faces the Celtics on the road Tuesday as part of a stretch that could give the Nets some breathing room.
"This was a great way to start," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "We did what we're supposed to do."
The Nets, who have three wins in their last 10 games, got contributions from several players.
Kenyon Martin had 17 points and frustrated Antoine Walker on the defensive end, limiting him to 10 points.
Center Jason Collins scored all of his season-high 15 during a 12-minute span when the Nets took the lead for good.
Paul Pierce had 22 points to lead Boston.
SONICS 107, MAVERICKS 100: Rashard Lewis scored 30 and had 10 rebounds, and Ray Allen added 29 points for host Seattle, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 27 points and 12 rebounds.
Mavericks guard Avery Johnson went on the injured list with a strained right calf before the game, and swingman Tariq Abdul-Wahad replaced him on the roster.
SUNS 109, KINGS 84: Shawn Marion scored 27 and had 11 rebounds, and Stephon Marbury added 26 points for host Phoenix. Chris Webber had 22 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for Sacramento.
Suns center Jake Tsakalidis was activated before the game, and guard Randy Brown was placed on the injured list with a left calf strain.
Thomas blames officials
Injuries, suspensions and off-court distractions are only part of the reason the Pacers have struggled recently.
Coach Isiah Thomas blames the officials.
Thomas accused them of targeting the Pacers and making more calls against Indiana than they normally would -- especially volatile forward Ron Artest.
"We've been very silent about this. We've tried to work the right way, but I think our guys are getting penalized unfairly," Thomas said.
Artest was called for a flagrant foul against Philadelphia on Wednesday for tackling Eric Snow. The foul gave Artest seven flagrant-foul points, earning him a one-game suspension. It is Artest's fifth suspension of the season -- four by the league and one by the team.