EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ, May 29 (Ticker) --
The New Jersey Nets
added a fantastic finish to another quick start.
scored 21 points and Kenyon Martin
and Keith Van
added 19 apiece as the Nets used big efforts in the first
and fourth quarters for a 103-92 victory over the Boston Celtics
and 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
New Jersey has made a habit of getting out to huge leads early
and upheld the pattern once again as it built a 31-16 lead after
12 minutes. The Nets have outscored the Celtics, 90-47, in the
first quarters of the last three games.
Boston got back into the game and pulled within 74-73 on a pair
of free throws by Erick Strickland
with 10:50 remaining. Jason
hit a jumper and added a pair of layups as the Nets
responded with 13 straight points for an 87-73 advantage.
Keith Van Horn hit consecutive threes in an 11-point fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
A free throw by Tony Battie
only served to briefly stem the tide
for Boston. Van Horn drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to cap
what amounted to a 20-1 run and 94-74 advantage with 5:37
remaining -- halting any hopes of another miracle finish by the
"Obviously, it is s great win," Nets coach Byron Scott said.
"Boston did a great job of coming back like we knew they would
and our guys did a great job of keeping composure and getting
back to playing the way we played to take the lead."
Kidd had another spectacular game, finishing with 18 points, 12
rebounds and seven assists. He made a decision on his own to
scrap the Nets motion offense in the fourth quarter, opting
instead to run pick-and-rolls and it resulted in both of Van
Horns late 3-pointers.
"One of my strengths is the pick-and-roll," he said. "I wanted
to go with something I was comfortable with and Keith hit some
led Boston with 24 points and Antoine Walker
finished with 13 but the duo failed to score in the fourth
quarter and combined for just one shot in the final 12 minutes.
Pierce and Walker combined to make just 10-of-33 shots.
"I thought going into the fourth quarter we would cone out with
a little more energy," Pierce said. "But we didnt."
Martin bounced back from a 3-of-13, eight-point performance in
Game 4 by scoring 13 points in the first half while Van Horn
turned in another strong game by scoring 11 points in the fourth
Van Horn has been an indicator of New Jerseys success this
postseason. Entering Game 5 he averaged 17.3 points in the
Nets nine victories and just 7.2 points in the five losses.
"I really feel that we did a good job with our offensive
execution," Van Horn said. "We did a good job of spreading the
floor and fortunately I was able to hit the shots."
After Pierce opened the games scoring by draining a pair of
free throws, New Jersey took the lead for good with 10 straight
"Weve been getting off to fast starts in the beginning of the
game," Kittles said. "For us to withstand (the end) shows the
maturity of the team."
New Jersey took a 55-38 lead into the locker room before the
Celtics crept back into the game. Pierce scored 12 points and
Strickland added nine off the bench in the third quarter as
Boston climbed within 72-69 heading into the fourth.
Kidd then picked apart the Celtics defense with six points,
three assists and flawless leadership. Meanwhile, New Jersey
switched to a zone defense anchored by seldom-used rookie center
that helped stifle Boston.
Collins also scored seven points -- all on free throws -- in the
"They went to zone and we did not get enough movement against
the zone, and we did not make our shots," Celtics coach Jim
OBrien said. "They really did what was necessary when we came
back on them."
"He (Collins) is extremely big in boxing guys out and big in our
zone defense," Scott said. "For a guy that hasnt played, for
him to come in and do the things he did tonight, it is just a
tribute to how hard he has worked this season."
Reserve forward Rodney Rogers
scored 20 points and Strickland
finished with 13 points as Boston got a strong effort from its
bench. But the Celtics are facing elimination for the second
time in this postseason -- the first was their Game 5 victory
over Philadelphia in the first round.
Game 6 is Friday at Boston.