Shawn Kemp, known for his offense, made a key defensive play Sunday to preserve a victory.
"There really was nothing special about it," Kemp said of his steal with 17.9 seconds to play in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 88-85 win over the New Jersey Nets.
Kemp, who led Cleveland in scoring in 17 of its first 22 games, relinquished that honor to Wesley Person, who scored a season-high 22 points as the Cavaliers recovered from their worst loss of the season, 113-83 at Washington on Saturday night.
The win did not come easy, however, against the 4-20 Nets.
Stephon Marbury scored eight of New Jersey's 10 points in a 10-3 run that pulled the Nets to 86-85 with 1:16 to play. He started and finished the spurt with 3-point shots.
Each team missed shots on their next possessions, and New Jersey was working for a shot to take the lead when Kemp stripped the ball from Keith Van Horn.
"I knew he (Van Horn) didn't have a lot of options," Kemp said. "I read it pretty well and didn't bite on his move. That's really all there was to it."
Nets coach Don Casey said the play was designed to work between Van Horn and Marbury, but was snuffed out early.
"It was a broken play," Casey said. "They defensed it well and wouldn't let Stephon get the ball. It was the pick-and-roll we were doing up high that we had so much success with."
Brevin Knight made two free throws with 9.8 seconds left to put Cleveland ahead 88-85.
Marbury, who led the Nets with 20 points, missed a 3-point attempt to tie the score with three seconds to play.
"If he makes that one, you just tip your hat to him and go to overtime," Knight said.
Marbury said he was confident the shot was good.
"I got a shot off," he said. "Every shot I take I think is going in."
The Cavs missed a good oportunity to break away midway through the fourth quarter when a flagrant foul by the Nets' Jayson Williams put Bob Sura at the line with Cleveland ahead, 77-69 with 7:51 to play.
Sura split the two free throws and Cleveland turned the ball over on the ensuing possession.
New Jersey then got a fast-break dunk by Chris Carr, a 3-pointer by Elliot Perry and a free throw by Williams to pull to 77-75.
An 18-footer by Person and tip-in by Corie Blount put Cleveland ahead 83-75 with 4:41 left, setting the stage for Marbury.
Danny Ferry hit all five of his shots from the field in the first half to score 11 points and lead Cleveland to a 49-40 halftime lead. Ferry did not take a shot in the second half.
Carr scored 16 points in 18 minutes off the bench for the Nets in the first half, hitting six of nine from the field. The rest of the Nets shot a combined 11-for-36 (.306).
Carr finished with a season-high 18 points and is likely to get more playing time as forward Scott Burrell suffered a sprained right ankle early in the fourth quarter and will be sidelined indefinitely.
"I liked what I saw of Chris," Casey said. "And I liked what the team did in the second half."
The Nets rallied after Casey called a timeout and lit into his team verbally.
"I told them we're not here to play out the season. We're here to get this thing going again. The docileness bothered me. But the energy picked up after that."
Notes: Cleveland guard Derek Anderson did not play because of a bruised right knee. ... Knight, who has been playing with sprained fingers on his right hand, left the game in the first quarter after being hit on his right index finger by a loose ball. He returned early in the third quarter. ... Cleveland is 9-4 at home; New Jersey fell to 1-14 on the road. ... Kemp had his 10th double-double of the season. Cleveland is 8-2 in those games. ... The Nets have lost 25 of the last 28 games they have played in Cleveland.
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