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New Jersey 109, Milwaukee 96
Kidd, Kenyon Sharp as Nets Swamp Bucks in Game 1

Kenyon Martin's 21 points and 15 rebounds sparked the Nets past the Bucks.
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., April 19 (Ticker) -- Jason Kidd scored the first six points of the game, then got the rest of the New Jersey Nets involved. Gary Payton couldn't get himself or his teammates going.

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Kidd scored all 14 of his points in the first quarter and handed out 14 assists as the Nets raced to an early lead and coasted to a 109-96 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game One of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

"Obviously this was a great start," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "I thought for 40 minutes we played about as good basketball as we've played all year on both ends of the court. I thought our focus and intensity was back in the last couple of days of practice and this is the result of that."

New Jersey had a chance to finish first in the East for the second straight year, but lost four of its last five games and finished one game behind the Central Division champion Detroit Pistons.

The second-seeded Nets controlled the tempo from the outset and led by as many as 31 points before resting their starters for the majority of the fourth quarter.

Kidd did not allow Payton to slow New Jersey's transition game as he opened the contest with consecutive fastbreak layups. He added a nine-footer before finding Kerry Kittles for a layup to give the Nets an 8-0 lead 3:25 into the game.

"Everyone was excited to get the playoffs started," Kidd said. "For me, I was just trying to be even keel and I got a layup and a couple of shots to fall early and everyone else got into their groove after that. I scored all of my points in the first quarter and everyone else carried the load after that."

Kenyon Martin had 21 points and 15 rebounds for New Jersey, which not only dominated in transition, but also overpowered Milwaukee inside.

"Everybody knows what's at stake right now," Martin said. "There's no tomorrow and we can't slack off. We have to play each game like it is our last. I think we did that today."

Kittles contributed 18 points and reserve Lucious Harris 17 as the Nets had seven players in double figures.

"We played a really good game on both ends of the court," Kittles said. "It was an excellent effort, we did a good job offensively. Defensively we tried to contain those guys and we got our transition game going early. We had everything working tonight and we will try to do the same thing on Tuesday night."

Jason Collins recorded playoff career highs with 13 points and 12 rebounds, helping the Nets to a 48-28 advantage off the glass.

"They did everything they were supposed to be able to do," Bucks coach George Karl said. "They ran by us, they outrebounded us and they penetrated. It was very disappointing how we responded to the personality we knew we were going to be up against."

New Jersey shot 54 percent (45-of-83) and outscored Milwaukee on the break, 21-5.

New Jersey native Tim Thomas scored 25 points off the bench for Milwaukee, which was outscored in the paint, 56-28. Thomas made 10-of-14 shots, including 5-of-6 from behind the arc, but 19 of his points came in the fourth quarter.

Former Net Sam Cassell added a quiet 16 points and Desmond Mason 14 for the Bucks, who shot 51 percent (40-of-78).

Mason had eight rebounds, but center Ervin Johnson had just two and was 0-for-2 from the floor while picking up four fouls in 16 minutes.

Payton missed his first eight shots and scored all eight of his points in the final 4:12, when Milwaukee closed with a 23-6 run. Acquired with Mason in a huge midseason trade that sent Ray Allen to Seattle, Payton had scored at leats 10 points in 56 straight playoff games.

"It wasn't frustrating. I just had a bad game," Payton said. "I take responsibility when I have a bad game and today I had one. This is a long series. On Tuesday, I'm going to come back and play just as hard. I know I won't have two games like that. Our whole team didn't play well. We dug a hole for ourselves. They outrebounded us by 20 rebounds, that's crazy."

Marcus Haislip, who took Thomas' spot in the starting lineup, had eight points and three rebounds in 17 minutes and could not contain Martin.

After using a 20-second timeout to temper New Jersey's momentum, Haislip hit a layup to cut the deficit to 8-2 with 8:54 to go in the opening quarter. But the Bucks got no closer as Collins and Haislip exchanged baskets before Kidd nailed a 3-pointer for a 16-6 lead with 6:26 left.

New Jersey shot a torrid 65 percent (13-of-20) in the first 12 minutes, when it held a 29-20 lead.

Harris opened the second quarter with a 21-footer and the Nets did net the margin fall under double digits thereafter. Martin and Harris each scored four points in a 14-2 run that pushed the advantage to 55-33, when Harris made 1-of-2 free throws 41 seconds before halftime.

The Nets experienced a scary moment with 9:38 left in the third, when Martin limped off the court holding his left leg. But the 6-9, 234-pounder returned just over a minute later and had seven points and four boards for the period.

"I'm a little sore, I'll probably be sorer later on," Martin said. "I will be all right for Tuesday. I rolled my ankle and I did not know what happened. I don't know whether I got hit or not. The only reason I would not have come back would be is if it was broken and I knew it wasn't."