EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., April 29 (Ticker) --
This time, the New
Jersey Nets made their free throws.
NBA TV highlights from|
Play of the Day:
In a game where baskets were at a premium, the Nets made
11-of-12 free throws in the final three minutes and squeezed out
an 89-82 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the pivotal fifth
game of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
scored 19 points for the second-seeded Nets, who took
a 3-2 series lead and can advance to the conference semifinals
with a win at Milwaukee on Thursday.
"At this time of year, you just want to win," Kidd said. "It
doesn't matter if it's pretty or not. It just shows the
character of this team."
In Game Four, the Nets undid a furious rally with poor
free-throw shooting. They made just 8-of-18 foul shots in the
fourth quarter and couple more in overtime, absorbing a 119-114
On Tuesday, New Jersey was clinging to a one-point lead when
was fouled with 2:35 to play. He made both free
throws and two more after a foul shot by Milwaukee's Toni Kukoc
giving the Nets an 80-76 lead with 2:05 remaining.
Kidd made a pair 30 seconds later, then answered Desmond Mason's
bank shot with a runner in the lane for an 84-78 lead with 1:03
and Lucious Harris
each made two foul shots
before Kidd added one in the waning seconds.
"That's the best part of this game - redemption," Kidd said. "We
were confident and we went up there and knocked them down. We
pretty much made them all in the fourth quarter except for me."
On Sunday, Collins and Harris missed potential tying free throws
and Jefferson missed a potential go-ahead foul shot. After
going 33-of-47 from the line, the Nets made 31-of-38 on Tuesday,
although Jefferson downplayed the importance of the foul
"We didn't hit our free throws down the stretch in Game Three
and we won the game," he said. "It was a freak game that happens
(Game Four). We knocked down our free throws today. Making
our free throws won't be the determining factor of the series."
Bucks guard Gary Payton
, who scored 16 points, thought
It was a one-point game and we had the ball about three or four
times and we couldn't score," he said. "We started fouling and
they started hitting their free throws."
New Jersey needed every point it could get as it shot less than
34 percent (27-of-80) from the field. Milwaukee was not much
better, shooting 34 percent (26-of-76).
"I thought it was a hell of a basketball game," Bucks coach
George Karl said. "To have an opportunity to win a game shooting
35 percent on the road, I thought it showed the courage of my
"It's pretty safe to say that defense won this game," Nets coach
Byron Scott said. "We did a good job of containing them."
The teams combined for 62 fouls and eight technicals. During a
stretch of nearly five minutes in the final period, the only
basket was a layup by Jefferson with 3:47 to play that gave the
Nets a 76-73 lead.
"There was a lot of defense going on out there," Bucks guard Sam
said. "There was a lot of banging. We respect them and
they respect us. It's just that they won the game."
Earlier in the period, Kerry Kittles
sank three 3-pointers. The
last one gave the Nets the lead for good at 74-71 with 6:20 to
play. Meanwhile, the Bucks were mired in a stretch of 5:51
without a basket.
"They got a lift from Kittles and from their defense," Karl
said. "Their defensive confidence is probably as strong as it
was in the entire series."
The drought ended at the 1:21 mark on Mason's banker, but Kidd
responded with his runner in the lane.
"I felt very confident," Kidd said. "These are the types of
plays that I liked to be involved in. I'll never shy away from
"Kidd made one tough shot in the fourth quarter," Karl said. "We
didn't do that."
Jefferson had 17 points and 16 rebounds and Kittles scored 15
points for the Nets, who tied a playoff franchise record set
exactly 19 years ago with 54 rebounds. They had 26
Kukoc scored 18 points, Cassell added 16 and Mason 14 for the
Bucks, who had just 40 rebounds and 12 assists.
The Nets led by as many as nine points in the second quarter
before settling for a 44-38 halftime lead. But they missed
their first five shots of the third quarter, and a jumper by Tim
pulled Milwaukee into a 46-46 tie.