EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., June 11 (Ticker) --
One of the lowest-scoring games in NBA Finals history saw Jason Kidd
and the New Jersey Nets
squeak past the San Antonio Spurs
, 77-76, and even the series at two games apiece.
NBA TV highlights from|
Nestlé Crunch Time:
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There were plenty of fouls and no flow as the teams approached
record lows harkening back to the early days of the shot clock.
In fitting fashion, the game was decided by free throws and a
ruling by the refs on a missed shot.
"It wasn't very pretty," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "You might as well get used to it."
The Nets won despite an 11-point third quarter and failing to
score from the field in the game's final four minutes. Three
free throws by Kenyon Martin
gave them the lead, and four more
by Kidd kept them in front. After the last two gave New Jersey
a 77-74 edge with 4.8 seconds to go, San Antonio had one more chance.
Richard Jefferson scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.|
Ray Amati/NBAE/Getty Images
A cross-court inbounds pass found an open Manu Ginobili
Argentine rookie headfaked and dribbled as Richard Jefferson
flew by, then launched a potential tying three-pointer that was contested by Martin.
The shot was short, and Kidd batted it away just after it had hit the rim. Tim Duncan
made a follow shot at the horn and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
argued in vain that Kidd had goaltended Ginobili's shot.
"He did (touch it), but (Ginobili) missed it anyway," said
Popovich, who was hit with a technical foul in the third
quarter. "It was short, it just grazed off the front. The guy
that hit the net didn't have anything to do with it."
Then turning sarcastic, Popovich said, "Maybe it's a rule or
something. I don't know."
On Tuesday, Scott complained about the discrepancy in free-throw
shooting through the first three games of the series. In Game 4 the Nets shot 29 free throws to 24 by the Spurs, marking
the first time they had more trips to the line.
There were 49 fouls, 27 on the Spurs, who saw Duncan limited by
first-half foul trouble and center David Robinson
Five technical fouls were also whistled, three of which were on the Nets.
"We drew fouls going to the basket and that kind of opened up
the game for us," Kidd said.
"We got our big guys in foul trouble and that really puts us in
a tough spot if we're getting into foul trouble," said Robinson,
who had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Added reserve center Kevin Willis
, who saw extended minutes due
to the foul trouble, "It was called the way they called it.
We're not going to cry about that."
The Finals are even at 2-2 for the first time since 1997. Game
5 is Friday at Continental Airlines Arena.
"A series a lot of people thought wasn't going to be a series,
now it's just the best two out of three," Scott said.
"We have a team in front of us and they are not going to get out
of our way and let us do whatever we want to do," Duncan said.
Martin had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Jefferson added 18 and 10
and Kidd collected 16 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
Jefferson, who had made just 6-of-21 shots in the last two
games, had his best game of the series. The second-year forward
attacked the rim and gave the Nets what they had been looking
for from him the entire series.
"The last two games I struggled but we won one of them,"
Jefferson said. "I don't think we are so much living and dying
by me but I understand that in order for this team to be
successful and win a championship, I have to play well."
Duncan had 23 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks. But the
Spurs shot just 28.9 percent (26-of-90) from the field -- the
third-worst performance in history -- as they wasted a 16-0
, the hero of Game 3, did not fare as well Wednesday.
He made just 1-of-12 shots as he was hounded by a
trio of defenders and was benched for Speedy Claxton
third quarter. Claxton scored 10 points.
The Spurs also got poor shooting nights from Malik Rose
and Stephen Jackson
, who shot a combined 1-for-18. Even Ginobili, who scored
10 points, made just 3-of-10 shots.
"Shooting was a little bit of a problem," understated Popovich.
"Four of our top six guys were 3-for-30-something and that's
going to be tough to win a game if you perform that way."
Kidd's free throw made it 52-39, and a soaring dunk by Jefferson
still had it at 56-45 with 5:15 left. But the Nets went
scoreless for 6 1/2 minutes, missing 12 straight shots while the
Spurs stormed to a 61-56 lead early in the final period.
"We have little stretches where for six or seven or eight minutes
where we do actually play pretty good basketball, but it takes
us being down 15 before we realize the urgency," Robinson said.
In the third quarter, New Jersey scored just 11 points, tying a
31-year-old Finals record set by their neighbors, the New YorkKnicks
Two driving hoops by Jefferson preceded Kidd's three-point play
that capped a 9-0 surge and gave New Jersey a 67-63 lead with 6
1/2 minutes to go. Ginobili made a three-pointer and Duncan made a
baseline floater to reclaim the lead with 4:33 to play, but San
Antonio did not score again from the field until the final
Two free throws each by Robinson and Ginobili made it 72-70 with
2:43 remaining before the Nets began marching to the line.
Martin made one, then two more for the lead at the 1:12 mark.
The Spurs had chances as Kidd missed a pair of jumpers, but the
Nets corraled the rebound each time.
"We just lost the offensive rebound to put ourselves in the
toughest position, and then you give the second one away, you
just feel like kicking yourself," said Robinson, who already had
fouled out. "Like, what are we doing? Like, do we want to win
this game? Is there some kind of urgency out there?"
New Jersey's first-half run began after Kidd tried to draw a
charge from Parker but was called for a block. He bounced up,
spit an obscenity at Fryer and was hit with a technical.
That put the Spurs into the penalty with 5:11 to go. But
Jackson missed the technical foul shot and Parker split his
pair, leaving the Spurs with a 30-26 lead. The Nets retaliated
with a 14-2 run featuring three-point plays by Jefferson and
and Duncan's third foul with 3:32 to go.