BOSTON, May 12 (Ticker) --
One year after advancing to the NBA
Finals for the first time, the New Jersey Nets established
another franchise milestone.
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Led by the continued stellar all-around play of Jason Kidd
, the Nets fought off a last-gasp effort by the Celtics and completed
a four-game sweep of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series
with a 110-101 double-overtime victory.
"It's something that's never been done," New Jersey coach Byron
Scott said of the first sweep in team history. "So just like
last year, we had a lot of personal records for the organization
and this is another one that we can kind of throw in there."
Fittingly, Kidd scored the final five points the Celtics allowed
this season. He hit two free throws to make it 107-101 with 33
seconds left, then hit a three-pointer at the buzzer when it
appeared the Nets would be content to run out of the clock.
"I was a little delirious," Kidd said. "The shot clock was
running down and my instincts told me to shoot it and it went
in. It wasn't anything to rub in Boston's face."
The Nets' point guard again endured vicious taunts by Boston
fans, but had the last laugh, just missing a triple-double with
29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
"I thought Kidd's performance was great," Scott said. "You
know, he played fantastic. I mean, his engine was revved up from
start to finish."
"The bottom line at the end of the night is that it's about
basketball," Kidd added. "We aced them last year, we handled it
great. I mean, you win with class and you lose with class."
Not even the presence of legends Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn and
John Havlicek could prevent the Celtics from getting swept in a
seven-game series for only the second time in the history of the
NBA's most storied franchise. They also were swept by the
Milwaukee Bucks in the 1983 Eastern Conference semifinals.
"Kidd is a tremendous leader for them," Boston guard Paul Pierce
said. "He would never let them out of the ballgame."
The Nets, who erased an eight-point deficit in the final four
minutes of regulation, eliminated the Celtics for the second
straight year and have won six straight playoff games overall.
They also became the first team in this year's postseason to win
consecutive games on the road in the same series.
By closing out the Celtics, New Jersey earned a rest of at least
five days. The Nets will play either Philadelphia or Detroit
in the Eastern Conference finals, which will start no sooner
than Sunday. That series is tied at two wins apiece.
"We won Game 3, so sitting around here in Boston for last
three days, we said we might as well win Game 4," Kidd said.
"Boston gave us everything they had. It was a great game and
in the end, the ball just bounced our way."
Pierce scored 27 points and Tony Delk
added a playoff
career-high 23 for the Celtics, who took the Nets to six games
in the Eastern Conference finals last season.
contributed 22 points for New Jersey, including all seven of his team's points in the first overtime.
The Celtics eventually were worn down by the Nets' superior
depth. Kerry Kittles
gave New Jersey the lead for good, hitting a 3-pointer that snapped a 99-99 tie with 3:57 left in the
"They do have a good team," Boston forward Antoine Walker
said. "I do wish them luck. Hopefully, we get better and come back
strong next year."
After Martin's layup made it 104-99 with 2:21 left, Mark Blount
missed a pair of costly free throws for the Celtics with 1:31
two foul shots pulled Boston within 105-101 with 36 seconds to go, but Kidd answered with a pair three seconds
later, and the Celtics' hopes ended when Williams missed a layup
on the ensuing possession.
Boston erased a six-point deficit with a 10-0 run early in the
fourth quarter, taking a 79-75 lead on Pierce's jumper with 7:59
left. The Celtics appeared to be in control when Pierce's two
free throws made it 84-76 with 4:10 remaining.
But the Nets responded with a 12-4 spurt, tying the contest on
Martin's jump hook with 1:24 to go in regulation. Kittles'
follow shot put the Nets up, 90-89, with 39 seconds to play.
Boston had a chance to regain the lead, but Williams could only
convert 1-of-2 from the line with 17 seconds left.
Delk temporarily saved the Celtics, stripping Kidd as he began a
drive with two seconds left and forcing the first overtime.
Boston had the final possession in the first extra period, but
Pierce missed a 22-footer from the left wing at the buzzer.
The Celtics came out with considerably more energy than in Game
3 and got an early lift from Delk, who scored 12 points in
the first quarter, helping Boston to a 23-21 lead.
The Nets beat the Celtics at their own game in the second
quarter, hitting 7-of-9 3-pointers in the period. In the first
half, they converted 9-of-15 from beyond the arc while the
Celtics were just 5-of-13. The strong outside shooting helped
New Jersey grab a 50-49 lead at the intermission.
Boston clamped down defensively in the second half, not allowing
another 3-pointer until Kittles' in the second overtime.