INDIANAPOLIS, April 30 (Ticker) -- Austin Croshere
and the Indiana
Pacers seemingly could not miss in the third quarter. Jason
and the New Jersey Nets could not sink shots the entire
With Jermaine O'Neal
plagued by foul trouble, Croshere scored 18
points off the bench, including nine in the decisive third
quarter, as the eighth-seeded Pacers forced a decisive fifth
game in their first-round Eastern Conference series against the
top-seeded Nets with a 97-74 blowout.
NBA TV highlights from|
Play of the Day:
After Kidd capped an 8-0 run with a fast-break layup to get New
Jersey within 47-45 with 7:31 remaining in the third quarter,
Croshere countered with a 3-pointer to trigger a 17-1 burst.
Austin Croshere scored half of his team-high tying 18 points in the decisive third quarter.|
"Remember me, Austin Croshere?" joked Croshere, who did not play
in Game Three. "I got a chance to get some minutes tonight due
to Jermaine's early foul trouble and the coaches let me play
through my early problems. Sometimes this doesn't happen. I
made some mistakes and they let me play through those. I
prepare to play every game and was prepared to go as long and as
much as called on."
"It's a five-game series and in each game different people will
have a chance to step up," said New Jersey forward Aaron
, who had just three points on 1-of-7 shooting.
"Fortunately for Indiana, (Croshere) stepped up big for them
ended the run with a pair of free throws to make it
64-46 with 3:14 remaining, and the Nets got no closer than 14
"Everyone knows that the third quarter was real big for us,"
said Indiana forward Ron Artest
, who had seven points in the
period. "We all stepped up, made big plays on offense and
defense, matched their energy and took ours to the next level.
"We played as if there is no tomorrow. Now we must go up there,
keep our energy level high and play as hard and as tough as we
Indiana made 67 percent of its shots (12-of-18) in the third
quarter and carried a 68-53 advantage into the final period.
Artest collected 18 points and Reggie Miller
14 for the Pacers,
who shot 54 percent (30-of-76) overall to snap a three-game home
playoff losing streak.
Kidd had 10 points but shot just 4-of-15 for the Nets, who were
held under 40 percent (30-of-76). Kenyon Martin
was 5-of-16 for
13 points to pace New Jersey, which is seeking just its second
postseason series victory and first since a five-game upset of
defending NBA champion Philadelphia in 1984.
Outscored on the break, 56-21, in the first three games of the
series, the Pacers had 24 fast-break points -- eight more than
"This was very unfortunate for us tonight," New Jersey coach
Byron Scott said. "We played as if we had the one-game cushion
and our players just didn't show up. Fortunately, our goal was
to get the split and get home-court advantage. That was the
only plus that I could see."
After a back-and-forth first 14 minutes that featured six ties
and 12 lead changes, Indiana went ahead for good, 28-25, on a
layup and free throw by Brad Miller with 7 1/2 minutes left in
the second quarter. The Pacers held a 38-33 halftime advantage.
"We thought that only being down five at the half that we had a
good chance to win the game," Kidd said. "However, they had a
big third quarter and we came out flat. The margin of the game
doesn't matter, whether it was two or 20 points. You can't look
at it as anything but a loss. We have to take away the good
and the bad from this game and use it in Game Five."
Game Five is Thursday in New Jersey, with the winner facing the
Charlotte Hornets in the conference semifinals.
"We're the eight seed, the pressure is on them," Pacers coach
Isiah Thomas said. "It's going to be a dogfight. We've won
there before, we can win there again."
"Anytime you are in a winner-take-all, that's where the fun
begins," Reggie Miller said. "It comes down to the little
things, the fundamental things. Both teams are facing
elimination. It will be a flat-out fight."