EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., May 5 (Ticker) -- After winning his battle with Reggie Miller, Jason Kidd drew first blood against the Charlotte Hornets.

Kidd once again took over down the stretch, hitting three pivotal baskets in the final three minutes to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 99-93 victory over the Hornets in the opener of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

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"Jason was Jason," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "When the game was on the line and the score was tied, I was calling his number as much as possible."

Jason Kidd's 21 points led the Nets to victory in Game 1.
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A leading candidate for NBA Most Valuable Player honors, Kidd helped the Nets advance to the conference semifinals for the first time since 1984 with a career playoff-high 31 points in Thursday's Game 5 double-overtime win over Indiana.

He scored 20 of those points after the third quarter and outdueled Miller, who also scored 31 points and tied the game in regulation with a 35-foot bank shot.

When the Nets most needed their All-NBA point guard, he again was there for them down the stretch. After Elden Campbell hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 91-91, Kidd made a 17-foot jumper from the left elbow with 2:52 left to give the Nets the lead for good.

Campbell, who scored 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, rimmed the basket on a fadeaway in the lane on Charlotte's next possession.

Kidd took it upon himself to pad the lead for New Jersey, using a crossover dribble to get past Baron Davis and hit a six-foot runner in the lane with 2:21 remaining.

David Wesley threw up an airball from 3-point range and former Net P.J. Brown missed a foul-line jumper before Campbell fouled New Jersey's Aaron Williams, who converted both free throws to make it 97-91 with 1:15 left.

Campbell hit a pair of free throws with 1:04 remaining, but Kidd punctuated his performance with an electrifying driving layup with 19 seconds left.

"The one thing is to be aggressive," Kidd said. "I was riding my teammates for a while, so I told myself at that point, they got us this far, so you need to do something. The big thing is those shots presented themselves. On any given day they could go in or you could miss them."

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday at New Jersey.

In the battle of All-Star point guards, Kidd finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and Davis had 23 points, seven steals, six rebounds and five assists. However, Davis had just three points in the fourth quarter -- a three-point play with 10:44 left.

"I wasn't aware of that," said Silas when told Davis did not score after his three-point play. "He has to be more aggressive if that is the case."

Instead, Charlotte opted to pound the ball inside to Campbell, who scored 13 of his team's 20 points in the period. But the Hornets' last basket came on a 17-foot jumper by Stacey Augmon with 4:25 remaining, giving them a 90-89 lead.

Charlotte played without leading scorer Jamal Mashburn, who is now bothered by an inner ear infection as a result of a vitamin B-12 deficiency, and reserve forward-center Jamaal Magloire, who was suspended one game for a flagrant foul against Orlando's Tracy McGrady in the first round.

Nets 7-foot Todd MacCulloch, who has been bothered by plantar fasciaitis in his left foot, scored 11 of his playoff career-high 14 points in the third quarter, when New Jersey outscored Charlotte, 32-22. The Nets hit 11-of-18 shots in the quarter while the Hornets were 7-of-22.

"That was pretty much their biggest quarter of the game," Brown said. "Even through all of that, we were still right there and could have won the game. They just made a few more big plays than us and Jason stepped up big at the end."

After Davis converted a layup to give the Hornets their biggest lead at 56-49 with 10:28 left, MacCulloch scored nine points to highlight a 15-6 run. He hit a fadeaway jumper in the lane, converted a three-point play and scored a pair of layups to put the Nets ahead, 64-62, with 4:41 left.

"Todd I thought was great tonight," Scott said. "He came out strong and played really well in the second half. That third quarter was a great one and he really got us back in the game."

Charlotte reclaimed the lead at 71-68 on a basket and a pair of free throws by Lee Nailon, who finished with 12 points. But the Nets scored nine of the last 11 points in the quarter as Kidd converted a layup and a pair of free throws.

The fourth quarter featured four lead changes and three ties before Kidd took over.

The Nets raced to an 11-2 lead in the first 3:08 as Keith Van Horn hit a 3-pointer and a reverse layup. But Davis quickly got his team back into it with a 3-pointer, a layup off a steal and a dunk, pulling the Hornets within 17-15.

After a dunk by rookie Jason Collins gave New Jersey a 38-33 lead in the second quarter, Charlotte went on an 18-7 run as guards Wesley and Davis combined for 12.

MacCulloch converted 1-of-2 free throws with 37 seconds left in the half to pull New Jersey within 51-45.

Kenyon Martin had just 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting for New Jersey, but Aaron Williams and Lucious Harris had 10 points each off the bench.