AUBURN HILLS, Mich., May 18 (Ticker) -- Jason Kidd
could not buy a
bucket until it counted most.
Kidd, who missed all but five of his first 18 shots, nailed a
go-ahead fadeaway jumper over two defenders with 1.4 seconds
left as the New Jersey Nets edged the Detroit Pistons, 76-74, in
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
New Jersey led, 74-67, after Kidd sank a jumper with 3:05 left,
but Detroit stormed back to tie the game on a pair of free
throws by Chauncey Billups with 22 seconds left.
Following a timeout, Kidd stood well outside the top of the arc
and milked the clock before dribbling toward the right side.
After passing Billups, Kidd dribbled toward the baseline and
launched a high-arcing jumper over 7-foot center Mehmet Okur.
The ball circled the rim before dropping through the net with
1.4 seconds to play.
"It was cleared out on the right side," Kidd said. "My thought
was, when I saw Okur in front of me, now my job was to get it up
Nets forward Kenyon Martin started on the right block, set a
pick and rolled to the basket for a potential offensive rebound.
But the Nets didn't need it.
"K-Mart can jump with the best of them, so I was going to take
my chances with `K' tipping it in to win and move on, or if you
miss we go into overtime," Kidd said.
The Pistons called a pair of timeouts around Tayshaun Prince's
inability to inbound. Following the second timeout, the
first-year forward launched a lob to the right side of the rim,
where Okur outjumped Richard Jefferson and tipped the ball with
his right hand.
Okur missed the initial tip, gathered the rebound and two-handed
a second shot off the backboard. But the ball hit the left
side of the rim and bounced away, allowing the Nets to
"I think it was a good pass," Okur said. "I just tried to catch
it the first time, but I missed the first one and tried to tip
the second one but it didn't go in."
"I recognized the switch on the other side and I just tried to
put it right at the rim for him to go get it," Prince said. "It
was a great play. He was down on himself for missing it but
there were plenty of things that happened before that play."
Martin contributed 16 points and nine rebounds and Kidd 15, nine
and seven assists for the Nets, who have won seven straight
playoff games, including four in a row on the road.
Richard Hamilton had 24 points to pace Detroit, which had won 16
of its last 17 home games over New Jersey and six in a row at
The Palace in the postseason since losing Game One of its
first-round series with Orlando.
"Great players make great shots," Hamilton said of Kidd's
jumper. "We had two guys on him, he had to shoot over a
7-footer in Mehmet and he made a big-time play. We put
ourselves in a situation, (74-74), the game tied up and if we
get that stop we go to overtime. He made a great shot."
In a game that featured several lengthy field-goal droughts by
both teams, New Jersey shot 40 percent (31-of-78) and Detroit 35
"We know this series is not going to be a series where there is
a lot of up-and-down, a lot of dunks, a lot of fast breaks, a
lot of alley-oops," Nets coach Byron Scott said.
"It's going to be a tough, physical basketball series. That's
how they play and that's how we play. It's going to be times
where it's just ugly basketball."
New Jersey, which had a five-day layoff after sweeping Boston in
the conference semifinals, jumped to an 18-6 lead on a follow
basket by Jefferson with 2:44 to play in the first quarter.
Okur entered and scored eight points to help the Pistons pull
within 22-16 entering the second period.
The Nets led by 43-36 at the break but came up cold in the
third, allowing the Pistons to take a 63-53 lead on a layup by
Ben Wallace with 26 seconds to play in the period.
But New Jersey scored the final two points of the quarter and
the first 10 of the fourth, grabbing a 65-63 lead on a pair of
free throws by Aaron Williams with 9:04 to play.
After Hamilton made a layup with 7:54 to play to even the
contest, the Pistons again went cold from the floor, failing to
sink a basket until Hamilton's runner in the paint got Detroit
within 74-72 with 55 seconds left.
"We did a decent job in the fourth quarter getting stops, making
it easier on ourselves than we did in the second and third
quarters," Martin said. "We came out in the fourth quarter and
just wanted to change it around."
The Pistons were 2-of-19 from the floor in the final period.
Okur scored 12 points - four after the first quarter - and
Billups 11 on 3-of-12 shooting for the Pistons, who made only
20-of-30 free-throw attempts.
Ben Wallace grabbed 22 rebounds but scored only six points and
connected on just 2-of-7 attempts from the stripe for Detroit.
Corliss Williamson and Prince each shot just 2-of-10 from the
field and finished with eight and seven points, respectively.
New Jersey, which defeated Boston in six games in the conference
finals last season, outscored Detroit on the break, 28-4, and
in the paint, 42-24.
"We got in a hole early because we allowed them to get out into
transition," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "They had 18 or
20 transition points in the first half, which is way too many.
"When you get to this level of the playoffs, playing in the
third round, you have to do things really hard and you have to
do things really well. Our execution for the whole game is
going to have to be better."
The Pistons, who beat Philadelphia on the road in overtime on
Friday night to reach the conference finals for the first time
since 1991, fell to 6-1 in the postseason when leading after
"It's disappointing to lose, without question," Carlisle said.
"We understand Game One is an important game. We have been down
before and we are going to have to bounce back, as simple as
Game Two is Tuesday at the Palace.
"(Kidd) has hit a lot of big ones in his career but that's the
biggest shot for us," Scott said. "It gives us home-court
advantage now. As we always have said, we want the first game.
We want to make sure in Game Two that we make some adjustments
and try to win that game also."