BOSTON, May 27 (Ticker) -- Lucious Harris
made his free throws, Paul
did not and the New Jersey Nets got what they came for.
Harris snapped a tie with two foul shots with six seconds left
and Pierce missed a pair moments later as the Nets bounced back
from the worst fourth-quarter collapse in playoff history with a
94-92 victory over the Boston Celtics.
The win evened the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece
and ended the Celtics' 11-game home winning streak. Boston had
been 6-0 at the FleetCenter in the postseason.
New Jersey wanted a split of the two games in Boston but blew a
21-point lead in the final period of Game 3 to fall behind
in the series. Monday's game followed a similar pattern as the
Nets never trailed, led by as many as 14 points but never were
able to shake the gritty Celtics.
Kerry Kittles made four huge shots from beyond the arc, after failing on all 17 of his previous attempts in the series.|
Nathaniel S. Butler
Pierce drained two foul shots with 17 seconds left as Boston
finally got even at 92-92. After a timeout, the Celtics
double-teamed Jason Kidd
, who found an open Harris. He was
fouled and made both free throws to put the Nets ahead.
"You have to have to be mentally confident, and that's what I
did," Harris said. "I'm talking to myself in my head like, `OK,
this is good. Just knock them down.'"
The Celtics went to Pierce, who drove and was fouled by Keith
with one second left. He missed the first free throw,
intentionally missed the second and Tony Battie's
"It was a situation where I make two free throws and it goes
into overtime, but that's just the breaks of the game," Pierce
said. "I am willing to accept that because when we win, I get
credit. Like I said before, when we lose, I'll take the
criticism. I'll take the heat."
scored a playoff career-high 22 points and Van
Horn added 21 and 10 rebounds for New Jersey, which regained
home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series. Kidd finished
just shy of a triple-double with 19 points, nine rebounds and
Pierce scored 31 points and Antoine Walker
added 30, but the
rest of the Celtics combined to shoot just 30 percent
(12-of-40). Pierce made 10-of-15 free throws, mirroring his
problems in Game 1, when he was just 7-of-13.
"We'd all love to be in that situation and when you fail, you
hate to be in it," Walker said. "If he would have never driven
the basketball to the basket, then he wouldn't have probably
never been in that situation. That won't bother him one bit.
I'm not worried about it at all."
Kittles had missed all 17 of his 3-point attempts in the series
before connecting on a pair in the first quarter as New Jersey
again came out strong. The Nets made four of their first five
shots from beyond the arc and took a 21-9 lead with 5:39
"They were about due," Kittles said. "I was long overdue for a
3-pointer. I wanted my first shot to be a 3-pointer so that I
could play with aggression and prove to myself that I could make
a 3-point shot."
Boston closed within 48-42 at halftime on a dunk by Battie, but
the Nets started the second half by getting their running game
going. Two free throws by Van Horn capped a 13-3 run that gave
New Jersey its largest lead at 61-46 with eight minutes left in
the third quarter.
A fast-break dunk by Kittles provided a 67-53 advantage before
Boston closed the quarter with a 16-6 run. A 3-pointer by
Walker pulled Boston within a point, but Harris responded with
one of his own for a 73-69 advantage heading into the final
Kittles gave the Nets an 86-80 lead with 3:50 remaining, but
they went cold and Boston pulled within 87-86 on two foul shots
by Pierce with 2:12 to go. Van Horn responded with a 3-pointer
and an inside layup around a basket by former Net Kenny
"Keith came up big," New Jersey coach Byron Scott said. "He
made that big three that really hurt. He hit a couple of other
jumpers and he got some rebounds. He did a heck of a job
Kidd provided tremendous defense down the stretch, drawing three
charging fouls in the fourth quarter. One victim was Rodney
with 48 seconds remaining and New Jersey protecting a
"We were the same guys we were in Game 3," Kidd said. "It
was just a matter of us knocking down shots and us being
aggressive instead of being passive."
Van Horn missed a jumper at the other end and Aaron Williams
called for a foul that put Pierce on the line. That set up the
frantic final moments in which a frenzied sellout crowd was
quieted after Battie's final miss.
"Ideal world, we'd get out to a big lead," Celtics coach Jim
O'Brien said. "But it doesn't always happen that way. And
certainly, when you're playing the Eastern Conference
(regular-season) champions, they have something to do with
Both teams shot 41 percent (32-of-78) and battled to a 43-43
stalemate on the boards. A big difference was 3-point shooting
as New Jersey made 10-of-21 and Boston connected on just
Game 5 is Wednesday in New Jersey.