Rookie Jason Collins Earns More Time Against Shaq
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.
'I thought he did a terrific job.I thought he did a better job of keeping his body on Shaq.'
Head Coach Byron Scott
Twin is Scott's nickname for third-string center Jason Collins, and thecoach liked what the rookie did against O'Neal in the fourth quarter of theLakers' 99-94 win on Wednesday night.
Collins didn't stop O'Neal. The Lakers' center scored 11 of 14fourth-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 abetter job of keeping his body on Shaq.'
Starting center Todd MacCulloch and backup Aaron Williams weren't asaggressive as Collins. The rookie also had five points, two rebounds and anassist in eight minutes.
Scott said the performance probably will result in more minutes for Collinson Friday at Staples Center.
'I felt I did a good job against him, but you know he is going to score hispoints, get his baskets,' Collins said. 'You just don't want him to getdunks, and if he catches the ball underneath the basket, you want to put himon 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, 16rebound performance.
'He made a couple of free throws but that's still the strategy,' Collinssaid.
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 facesO'Neal in practice every day.
'I think he feels he has enough bodies to do that,' Walker added. 'Thelonger the series goes along, there will be a time where you have to paymore attention to Shaquille O'Neal.'
While the Nets may eventually double-and-triple team or throw in a zone or alittle help, they realize there is no denying O'Neal.
'He is so much bigger than everybody,' Nets forward Keith Van Horn said ofO'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 thisgame,' 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 himon defense.
He picked up just two fouls in Game 1, and New Jersey didn't make him workhard until Collins entered the game.
'Every team has tried to do something different with Shaq, or take awaysomething else and let Shaq get 40,' Nets star Jason Kidd said. 'We justhave to try to find something maybe a little different.'
Hall of Famer Willis Reed said O'Neal is the modern equivalent of someone heplayed against - Wilt Chamberlain.
'If he doesn't have a good game it's not because you are stopping him,' Reedsaid. 'It's because he's not shooting well or not making his free throws.'
By TOM CANAVAN
AP Sports Writer