EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., May 22 (Ticker) -- Jason Kidd
shooting stroke, while the Detroit Pistons still looked lost.
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Kidd scored a playoff career-high 34 points as the New Jersey
Nets moved within one win of returning to the NBA Finals with a
97-85 victory over the punchless Pistons.
With their ninth straight postseason win -- matching the
fourth-longest streak in NBA history -- the second-seeded Nets
opened a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
They can complete their second straight sweep with a win at home
Kidd had the game-winning shot in the series opener but made
just 14-of-40 shots in the two games in Detroit. With the Nets
back on their home floor for the first time in more than two
weeks, Kidd found things to his liking.
The All-Star point guard made 11-of-21 shots and piloted a
fast-break offense that scored 32 points in transition,
demoralizing Detroit. He added 12 rebounds and six assists in a
superb all-around game.
"It felt good to come out and get some easy baskets," Kidd said.
"Our running game up in Detroit, we probably did it for two
quarters. Tonight we tried to do it for 48 minutes. We got our
hands on a lot of balls and we got a lot of rebounds that led
to fast breaks and easy baskets."
"I just saw a guy that wanted to win the game," Nets coach Byron
Scott said. "He was able to get to the basket pretty easy. He did a great job of attacking."
The fourth-quarter problems experienced by the top-seeded
Pistons in the first two games resurfaced much earlier in Game
3. They were outscored and outplayed in each of the first
three periods, rendering the final 12 minutes meaningless.
"Let's force our will on them," Scott said of being back at
home. "Let our presence be felt on the offensive end. Let's
get up and down the floor and let's do it for 48 minutes. If
they can stop it, so be it. If they can't, we're going to get
some easy buckets."
scored 21 points for Detroit, which shot less
than 40 percent (29-of-73), committed 18 turnovers and was
beaten on the boards, 50-39. It is danger of being swept out of
the playoffs for the ninth time in franchise history.
"I feel right now that the most important thing is to match New
Jersey's energy," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "We need
everybody playing at a high level and we need a lot of guys to
contribute points and rebounds."
Before Kidd got going, the Nets rode a quick start by Kenyon
, who scored 14 of his 19 points in the first quarter.
Martin picked up right where he left off in Game 2, when he
scored 16 of his 25 points in the final period.
"I just wanted to come out and let the guys know that there is
no time to relax," Martin said. "I wanted to come out and set
the tone early. I set the tone in the first and Jason set the
tone in the third. That's what the leaders of this team are
supposed to do."
The Pistons jumped to an early 13-6 lead before Martin began
overpowering them inside. His two free throws gave the Nets the
lead for good at 19-17 with 2:13 left. Kidd followed with a
driving layup and closed the quarter with a three-pointer for a
When Kidd sat down, reserve Anthony Johnson
had a pair of
three-pointers that helped build the bulge to 43-31 midway through
the second period.
Less than a minute later, Martin hammered home an alley-oop
dunk. He slapped the backboard, tugged on his uniform to show
his heart and was hit with a technical foul.
"We're playing at home and we want to play our game at home,"
Martin said. "We played their game up there, so we want to play
our game here. We did a great job of that."
Kidd took over the offense from there, scoring 10 points in the
final five minutes. His driving layup gave New Jersey a 57-46
"Our energy hopefully is always high," Kidd said. "I have some
guys on this team like K-Mart, who you can feed off of. If
you're down, all you have to do is look at (No.) 6 and he plays
with a lot of emotion. Sometimes you can feed off him."
The Pistons got within 57-50 early in the third quarter. But
Kidd had a driving layup and two free throws, and the Nets led
by double digits thereafter.
Kidd scored 11 points in the third quarter, which ended with New
Jersey holding an 80-65 lead. Detroit got no closer than the
Johnson and Lucious Harris
scored 10 points each and Richard
grabbed nine rebounds for the Nets, who shot 41.5
and Cliff Robinson
scored 15 points apiece
and Ben Wallace added 13, 15 rebounds and five blocks for the
Pistons. Guard Chauncey Billups
, again favoring his sprained
ankle, was limited to 18 minutes and seven points.
"We've got to play as a team," Wallace said. "We've gone
through struggles as a team and right now, we're not playing
team basketball. We're not playing the type of basketball that
got us here."