EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., May 9 (Ticker) --
With Richard Jefferson
providing the offense, the New Jersey Nets had plenty of defense
to get back into their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Jefferson poured in a playoff career-high 30 points on 11-of-19
shooting, leading the Nets to an 82-64 victory over the Detroit
Pistons in Game 3.
New Jersey cut Detroit's lead in the series to 2-1 and can get
even on Tuesday night. The second-seeded Nets used a stifling
defensive performance to hold Detroit to 29 percent (22-of-76)
shooting and a franchise-playoff low 64 points.
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Despite foul trouble, Kenyon Martin posted 13 points and eight rebounds.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/NBAE
The other end of the court was dominated by Jefferson, who has
bounced back emphatically from a 1-of-12 performance in the
opener and has gotten the best of Tayshaun Prince
Jefferson shined with 11 points in the first and third quarters
and his second-half production came with teammates Kenyon Martin
and Rodney Rogers
in foul trouble.
"Tonight my teammates just got me the ball. Tonight my shots
went in," Jefferson said. "The first couple of games, they
New Jersey never trailed, opening the game with a 20-5 run.
Jefferson nailed 3-pointers bridging the end of the first
quarter and start of the second to open a 34-13 cushion. He had
17 points at halftime.
"My job was to get the ball to No. 24 tonight," Nets guard Jason
Kidd said of Jefferson. "He was at a very high level tonight.
No matter if it was two seconds on the shot clock, he was going
to get the ball and he knew what to do with it."
The third-seeded Pistons whittled the deficit to 54-46 with 7:41
left on a short jumper by Rasheed Wallace
. Jefferson responded
with the final five points of a 7-0 run and the lead never
dipped below double digits.
"With Richard, he made some huge momentum shots," Nets coach
said. "Him being able to play 44 minutes and
provide scoring with our guys in foul trouble was huge."
Jefferson's offense was a welcome sight on a night when Kidd
made just 2-of-14 shots, although he handed out 12 assists.
Martin was slowed by foul trouble and finished with a quiet 13
points and nine rebounds.
The Nets' defensive plan centered around slowing the backcourt
of Chauncey Billups
and Richard Hamilton
, who combined for 56
points in Game 2. New Jersey made an adjustment, with Kidd
guarding Hamilton and Kerry Kittles
switching to Billups as the
duo managed 17 points on 5-of-25 shooting.
"I don't think we expected it," Hamilton admitted. "Jason's
probably their best defender, so a lot of things can happen."
Detroit received a monster effort from Ben Wallace
collected 15 points and a postseason career-high 24 rebounds.
But Rasheed Wallace was saddled with fouls, played just 22
minutes and scored 10 points.
"They played a good game tonight and they won, but I am putting
an asterisk by this win," Rasheed Wallace said. "I am not going
to say for what reason because I don't want go get fined. That
is all I am saying."
New Jersey has won eight straight home playoff games against
Eastern Conference foes.