CHARLOTTE, NC, May 12 (Ticker) --
Looking like a
prizefighter, Jason Kidd
put the hurt on the Charlotte Hornets.
With 15 stitches above his right eye, Kidd scored 13 of his 24
points in the final eight-plus minutes to lead the New Jersey
Nets to an 89-79 victory over the Hornets and a commanding 3-1
lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
NBA TV highlights from |
Kidd was cleared to play Sunday morning by Nets team doctor
Michael Kelly and trainer Tim Walsh after the swelling in his
eye improved. He opted not to play with a protective mask or
goggles after suffering the injury in a head-on collision with
Charlotte's David Wesley
late in the first half of Game 3 on
Keith Van Horn got the Nets going early, leading them in scoring and rebounding in the first half.|
Garrett W. Ellwood
"You've just got to give Timmy a lot of credit for stitching me
up and getting the swelling down," Kidd said. "My vision was
great. I thought I saw everything as normal."
The runner-up for NBA Most Valuable Player, Kidd added 11
rebounds, eight assists and his usual tough defense on Baron
Davis, who scored 20 points but was 5-of-19 from the field,
including 1-of-10 from 3-point range.
Kidd made just 6-of-23 shots but took over down the stretch when
the Nets needed him most. After missing his first six
3-pointers, Kidd connected from behind the arc to give New
Jersey a 71-67 lead with 8:04 left.
He also set up Keith Van Horn with a bullet pass for an
uncontested 3-pointer from the top of the key that increased the
lead to 76-69 with 6:34 remaining. Van Horn finished with 16
points and 11 rebounds.
Kidd drove past Davis and P.J. Brown for a layup with 6:05 left
and hit a pair of free throws with 4:35 remaining, giving the
Nets an 82-73 advantage.
"I was just being aggressive and concentrated on going to the
basket and putting pressure on their defense," Kidd said. "I
got a lot of points at the line."
After Lee Nailon converted a layup and Davis hit 1-of-2 free
throws to pull Charlotte within 82-76 with 3:12 left, Kidd
converted 6-of-8 free throws in the final 1:47 to seal the win.
"Jason was great tonight, he was typical Jason," said Nets
forward Kenyon Martin. "He showed what he was made of, although
we already knew what he was made of."
The Nets never have advanced to an NBA conference finals but can
clinch the series Wednesday in Game 5 at New Jersey.
It may have been the final game at Charlotte Coliseum. On
Friday, the NBA approved the Hornets' move to New Orleans
beginning next season. Sunday's game drew 13,864, the team's
largest crowd of the postseason.
"I told the team we'd faced adversity all year and this is just
another step," Hornets coach Paul Silas said. "It will be tough
but not impossible to win in New Jersey. They know if we come
back here, they'll be in a dogfight."
Both teams shot poorly from the field and the free throw line,
but the Nets outrebounded the taller Hornets, 51-40, including
20-7 off the offensive boards. That was a stunning development
since Charlotte held a 45-36 rebounding advantage in its 115-97
victory in Game 3.
"I was most concerned with New Jersey's 20 offensive rebounds
and 18 second-chance points," Silas said. "They manhandled us.
P.J. (Brown) rose to the occasion, but nobody else did. The
hustle parts hurt us tonight. We had chances to run out if we
got defensive rebounds. That's all New Jersey was doing. They
weren't making shots either. They got rebounds, ran out and got
two or three layups."
P.J. Brown led Charlotte with 16 rebounds and no other Hornet
had more than six.
Hornets center Elden Campbell, who was listed as questionable
with flu-like symptoms, played 35 minutes but had just seven
points on 2-of-9 shooting and six rebounds.
"The rebounding really stands out," Brown said. "The hustles,
the loose balls that New Jersey got. Every second-chance point
and loose ball was theirs. It's about passion and will."
Nets coach Byron Scott acknowledged that the Nets played with
more intensity than they did on Thursday.
"Our guys had a look in practice yesterday that told me we were
going to compete better and play with more energy," Scott said.
"And it's no mystery that this team follows Jason's lead and he
provided the inspiration."
Kerry Kittles scored a playoff career-high 20 points for the
Nets, including 11 in the third quarter.
A 3-pointer by Kittles snapped a 51-51 tie with 7:25 left in the
third quarter. The Nets took their biggest lead of the quarter
at 64-60 when Kittles converted a pair of free throws with 1:22
But George Lynch, who finished with 19 points, hit a short
jumper and Davis had a driving layup in the final minute to tie
the game heading into the fourth quarter.
"Kerry gave us a huge lift there for us in the third quarter,"
Kidd said. "We needed someone to give us a lift after we scored
just 39 points in the first half and he gave us some offense."
Nailon scored the first basket of the fourth quarter, but the
Hornets went nearly 7 1/2 minutes without a field goal,
converting 7-of-13 free throws.
Meanwhile, the Nets went on an 18-7 run capped by Kidd's free
throws with 4:35 left.
Anthony Johnson, Kidd's backup at point guard, hit a 15-footer
from the right side to give the Nets the lead for good at 68-67
with 8:46 left before Kidd connected on his only 3-pointer of
"We just didn't execute down the stretch," Davis said. "We had
turnovers. We didn't rebound. We have to focus. I'm confident
we can still win this series. It's just a matter of
Charlotte started the second quarter with a 16-7 run and held a
44-39 lead at halftime.