EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., April 22 (Ticker) --
The only problem Jason Kidd
had was with his footwear.
Kidd fell just short of a triple-double and Kenyon Martin netted 19 points as the New Jersey Nets returned to form and evened their Eastern Conference first-round series with the Indiana Pacers at a game apiece with a 95-79 victory.
"Everybody on our team knew that this was a must-win," New Jersey coach Byron Scott said. "I am not sure that everyone
wanted to admit it."
Kidd finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as New Jersey showcased the balanced attack that helped it streak to the best record in the Eastern Conference.
NBA TV highlights from|
E.piphany of the Day:
Although he tried to mirror Jason Kidd, Jamaal Tinsley couldn't quite pull it off.
Kidd completely dominated Pacers rookie Jamaal Tinsley
, who was plagued by foul trouble and did not score.
"I think everybody was a little bit more relaxed tonight," Kidd said. "They gave me a sense that everybody was ready to play. You could tell the atmosphere was different."
The only real trouble Kidd had was when he lost a shoe -- twice. That was the only bump in the road for New Jersey as Keith Van Horn came up with 17 points and reserve forward Aaron Williams added 15.
The Nets gained control with a 15-3 run to close the second half. Kidd scored 10 points in the spurt, including a jump shot that provided a 49-38 cushion at intermission.
"I was pretty fired up for tonight's game," Kidd said. "I enjoy the battle and that's what it's all about."
Reggie Miller's jumper pulled Indiana within 51-48 just over four minutes into the second half, but Kidd had three baskets in an 8-2 run for a 59-50 edge with 6:22 to go.
Rookie Richard Jefferson's free throw opened up a 72-60 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
A comeback by Indiana never materialized in the fourth quarter after Williams and Lucious Harris opened the period with baskets. A short hook by Van Horn gave the Nets their largest lead at 88-68 with 5:17 remaining.
"I think we just really wanted to come out and play Nets basketball, like we have throughout the whole regular season,"
Van Horn said. "In the first game, it wasn't there. We weren't playing like ourselves."
Miller led all scorers with 26 points, but the Nets clamped down on Jermaine O'Neal, who poured in 30 points Saturday in the Pacers' victory. O'Neal made just 3-of-11 shots for 12 points as Kenyon Martin and Van Horn each took turns guarding the All-Star forward and also received plenty of help.
"I thought they did a good job just in terms of banging him around," Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "They got pretty
physical with him down on the low post. Whenever he got the basketball, they did a good job of contesting."
Brad Miller, who posted a double-double on Saturday with 18 points and 12 rebounds, managed only 10 and four. No other Pacer broke into double figures.
The contrast in the two games for New Jersey was evident on the defensive end. The Nets allowed 52 points in the first half on Saturday but limited the Pacers to 39-percent shooting (11-of-28) in the first 24 minutes and only four baskets in the second quarter on Monday.
"Our frontcourt guys really took the challenge to be aggressive tonight, and I think they did a heck of a job guarding guys," Scott said. "That is the way we played all year long on defense, and we have not gotten a lot of recognition for it."
New Jersey held a 41-37 edge on the glass and took advantage of the physical contest by capitalizing at the free-throw line. The Nets made 26-of-30 attempts while Indiana was 19-of-24.
The win also snapped a three-game home losing streak for New Jersey, which owned the best home record in the East with a 33-8 mark. The Nets were boosted by a sellout crowd.
Indiana lost the second game of a first-round series for the third straight year after winning the opener. O'Neal and
Tinsley combined for seven of the team's 18 turnovers.
"They did a lot of things right tonight," Reggie Miller said. "You have to give their defense a lot of credit. They forced us into a lot of situations that we were not comfortable with."
New Jersey posted its first victory in a playoff game since a 93-92 overtime win over New York here on May 4, 1994.