Well, the series that included flagrant fouls, protests, near-fights and angry words ended last night with another Nets win.  

Tim Thomas, the center of half of those attributes, was finally able to dress for the first time since he was the victim of a hard foul in Game 1 but that would be as far as he could get, not being able to step onto the Madison Garden floor to help his teammates in battle.

The Nets were able to laugh off most of the talk that surfaced from the Knicks and laid claim to being the superior team for the third consecutive year.

"That's what it proves," forward Kenyon Martin said. "They played an excellent series. But we've been saying it for three years now, we want to prove who the No. 1 team in the area is. We helped that cause today."

The Nets had no answer for Martin or for Jason Kidd, who played a pivitol defensive role on Knicks superstar Stephon Marbury down the stretch.

"Well, with all the talk, throughout the year, they were going to catch us, they were the better team, they wanted to play us in the playoffs," said Kidd. "Well, like I said, sometimes it's fool's gold. Sometimes you wish for something that you want and in reality you don't want it. But they got what they needed."