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Rookie Jason Collins Earns More Time Against Shaq
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 06/07/2002

June 7, 2002

Los Angeles, Calif. - If Byron Scott gets his way, the New Jersey Nets are going to switch to the "Twin" defense against Shaquille O'Neal in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Don't mistake it for a double team.

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"I thought he did a terrific job.I thought he did a better job of keeping his body on Shaq."
Head Coach Byron Scott
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Twin is Scott's nickname for third-string center Jason Collins, and the coach liked what the rookie did against O'Neal in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 99-94 win on Wednesday night.

Collins didn't stop O'Neal. The Lakers' center scored 11 of 14 fourth-quarter points against him, but O'Neal worked for every one.

"I thought he did a terrific job," Scott said Thursday. "I thought he did a better job of keeping his body on Shaq."

Starting center Todd MacCulloch and backup Aaron Williams weren't as aggressive as Collins. The rookie also had five points, two rebounds and an assist in eight minutes.

Scott said the performance probably will result in more minutes for Collins on Friday at Staples Center.

"I felt I did a good job against him, but you know he is going to score his points, get his baskets," Collins said. "You just don't want him to get dunks, and if he catches the ball underneath the basket, you want to put him on the line."

Collins did just that, picking up five fouls in his short stint.

O'Neal was 5-for-10 from the line on those fouls in capping a 36 point, 16 rebound performance.

"He made a couple of free throws but that's still the strategy," Collins said.

The Nets actually surprised the Lakers in Game 1 by not helping MacCulloch, Williams and Collins much.

"I was very surprised," said Lakers backup center Samaki Walker, who faces O'Neal in practice every day.

"I think he feels he has enough bodies to do that," Walker added. "The longer the series goes along, there will be a time where you have to pay more attention to Shaquille O'Neal."

While the Nets may eventually double-and-triple team or throw in a zone or a little help, they realize there is no denying O'Neal.

"He is so much bigger than everybody," Nets forward Keith Van Horn said of O'Neal, who is 7-foot-1 and 335 pounds, which is 75 more than Collins.

"There is nobody who can compete with him on an individual level in this game," Van Horn said. "He is so unbelievably big and strong."

So the Nets want to make O'Neal work harder on offense and to challenge him on defense.

He picked up just two fouls in Game 1, and New Jersey didn't make him work hard until Collins entered the game.

"Every team has tried to do something different with Shaq, or take away something else and let Shaq get 40," Nets star Jason Kidd said. "We just have to try to find something maybe a little different."

Hall of Famer Willis Reed said O'Neal is the modern equivalent of someone he played against - Wilt Chamberlain.

"If he doesn't have a good game it's not because you are stopping him," Reed said. "It's because he's not shooting well or not making his free throws."

By TOM CANAVAN
AP Sports Writer


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