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 conference semifinals.

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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.
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"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 around."

"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 made 1-of-2 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 left.

With Davis on the bench, Charlotte was forced to use David Wesley 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 victory.

"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 Jefferson 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 throws.

Jamaal Magloire 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.

P.J. Brown added 11 points against his former team but also fouled out for Charlotte in a game that featured 67 fouls and 81 free throws.