Kemp Leads Cavs By Nets


Moments before tipoff, Shawn Kemp grabbed a microphone and on behalf of his teammates thanked Cavs fans for coming to the game. Then he went out and sold a few more tickets.

Kemp had 27 points and 15 rebounds, and Brevin Knight added 16 points Wednesday night as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their home opener, 97-90 over the New Jersey Nets.

Kemp, who carried the Cavs last year when center Zydrunas Ilgauskas went down with a season-ending injury, once again did it all as Cleveland made it a winning home debut for first-year coach Randy Wittman.

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  • Cleveland is hoping to draw more fans to Gund Arena, which is so quiet some nights that the beer vendors are the loudest people in the building. The Cavs are trying to excite the city with a new uptempo style of offense, new uniforms and a new attitude.

    But Kemp knows the quickest way to pack the place is by winning.

    "We need to win every game here in Cleveland to get people back in the stands. That's the most people I can remember seeing here in a while," he said of the announced crowd of 16,777.

    "That was the most disappointing thing when I came here from Seattle where we were always sold out. Last year, we got off to a bad start and it got worse. Hopefully, we can continue to win and people will get excited."

    Stephon Marbury led the Nets with 27 points, but shot just 7-for-25 from the floor and had six turnovers and just one assist. Keith Van Horn added 20 points and Jamie Feick had 13 rebounds for New Jersey, which shot just 34 percent fro the field.

    "My shots were there, they just didn't go down," said Marbury, who went just 15-for-34 in an opening-night loss to Indiana. "I didn't think I forced shots except maybe twice when the clock was running down."

    None of the Nets accused Marbury of shooting too much, but a few talked about the importance of moving the ball around more.

    "We need to swing the ball around and use more of the floor," Van Horn said. "We were too much on one side of the court all night. We had a lot of makable shots, we just didn't make them."

    Andrew DeClercq had 12 points and nine rebounds and Bob Sura added 13 points for Cleveland, which has won six straight and 12 of 13 over New Jersey.

    Wesley Person's 3-pointer with 5:53 left gave the Cavs an 83-77 lead before Marbury brought the Nets back by scoring 11 straight points to bring New Jersey within 87-86.

    Knight's baseline jumper with 1:58 remaining gave Cleveland a 91-88 lead and, after Marbury was called for a charging foul on New Jersey's next possession, Kemp grabbed a rebound in traffic and was fouled.

    He made both free throws to put the Cavs up by five points and, after another Marbury miss, DeClercq sealed it with a thunderous dunk.

    "There were a lot of fans here tonight and we wanted to give them a good show," Knight said. "We wanted to show them that we are for real."

    Sura, who has been booed mercilessly at home the past two seasons by Cavs fans unhappy with his play and long contract, scored nine points in a 17-1 run that helped Cleveland open a 69-54 lead with 3:27 left in the third quarter.

    But with Marbury on the bench, the Nets cut it to 80-77 with 6:26 left in the game on two free throws by Van Horn.

    Despite making just one of their first 16 shots from the floor and 4-of-21 in the second quarter, the Nets trailed by only 46-41 at halftime.

    Marbury, who attempted 34 shots on Tuesday night, was 1-for-10 from the field before hitting two straight jumpers and scoring six straight points during an 8-0 run late in the half that brought New Jersey within 42-39.

    Notes

  • Sura, a notoriously poor free-throw shooter, went 8-for-8 from the line.
  • Cavs rookie Andre Miller added seven points and seven assists in 21 minutes.
  • Marbury scored 13 of his points on free throws.
  • Cavs forward Danny Ferry played in his 662nd game for Cleveland, moving him into second place on the club's career list. Only Bobby "Bingo" Smith (720) has played in more games.
  • Several members of the Cleveland Brons, including running back Terry Kirby and safety Corey Fuller, attended the game.

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