EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (Ticker) --
Once Baron Davis
fouled out, Jason Kidd
had a clear path to carry the New Jersey
Nets to the Eastern Conference finals.
Kidd and Todd MacCulloch
dominated the final minutes as the Nets
earned their first trip to the Eastern finals with a 103-95
victory over the Charlotte Hornets in Game 5 of the
New Jersey survived a physical, foul-plagued contest to advance
past the second round for the first time since joining the NBA
in 1976. Although the Nets had two key reserves foul out, the
Hornets were dealt a bigger blow when their All-Star point guard
picked up his sixth foul.
New Jersey trailed, 87-84, when Davis was called for a loose
ball foul while battling MacCulloch for a rebound in the paint
with 5:39 to go.
Keith Van Horn scored seven of his 16 points in a huge third quarter for New Jersey.|
Jesse D. Garrabrant
"It's part of the game," said Davis, who had not fouled out this
season. "I was down there with the big guys and there was not
too much I could do. I don't think I fouled him, but that's
besides the point. The call was made and it turned the game
"When Baron went out, you lose your primary ballhandler, the guy
who gets everybody else involved," Charlotte coach Paul Silas
said. "So it was devastating to lose him. Our other guys had
to step up, we just couldn't do it."
After the teams traded free throws, Kenyon Martin
from the line and Kerry Kittles
nailed a 3-pointer off a pass
from Kidd to give the Nets the lead for good, 90-89, with 4:39
With Davis on the bench, Charlotte was forced to use David
at point guard and Kidd took advantage. Wesley fumbled
the ball, Kidd recovered it and led a fast break before dishing
to Kittles on the baseline.
Kittles missed a jumper, but MacCulloch grabbed the rebound and
banked in a layup for a 92-89 lead at 4:18.
With teammates Aaron Williams
and Jason Collins
having fouled out, MacCulloch took over the paint down the stretch and
collected four of his seven rebounds in the final five minutes.
Kidd followed with a fast-break layup to stretch the lead and
Keith Van Horn buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to make it
97-90 with 2:30 to go.
"Jason was as aggressive as ever, and that's what I like," New
Jersey coach Byron Scott said. "He looked to push it and I think
that propelled us to the victory. Jason has been like this in
big games all season long. He didn't want to lose this game."
Kidd delivered the dagger with 46 seconds left, connecting with
Martin on an alley-oop dunk that sealed New Jersey's 4-1 series
"That was an excellent way to finish the game," Martin said.
"That put an exclamation point on it. (Kidd) looked at me and I
looked at him right before we ran the play. We both nodded and
knew what that meant."
"Obviously, it was a great game and a great win," Scott added.
"Right now, I am just proud of our guys in the locker room.
We've persevered through some tough times and some bad losses,
but we've always showed the heart, will and desire to come back
and play extremely well when we needed it. For a young bunch of
guys, that is a remarkable feat."
The Hornets did not make a shot for more than seven minutes
after Stacey Augmon
sank a turnaround jumper with 8:26
remaining. Their only basket thereafter was a meaningless
3-pointer by Wesley with seven seconds to go.
Kidd finished with 23 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds and
five steals. Kittles scored 18 points and Van Horn added 16 and
seven rebounds for New Jersey, which will host the Boston
Celtics on Sunday in Game One of the conference finals.
"We've answered a lot of questions that are out there since
October," Kidd said. "And the next question is if we are going
to beat a talented team in Boston. I think this has been a
dream season for us and we don't want it to end."
Martin had 14 points and seven rebounds and Richard
and Lucious Harris
added 11 points apiece as the Nets
shot 43 percent (33-of-77) from the floor and made 31-of-39 free
had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Lee Nailon
also scored 14 points for Charlotte, which shot just 40 percent
(31-of-78) and made just 28-of-42 from the line.
Davis collected 13 points and eight assists befire fouling out
and Wesley also had 13 points. George Lynch
chipped in 11
points and 13 rebounds and Elden Campbell
scored 11 points.
added 11 points against his former team but also
fouled out for Charlotte in a game that featured 67 fouls and 81