MIAMI, May 8 (Ticker) -- Jason Kidd
and the New Jersey Nets exploited
all of the Miami Heat's weaknesses.
Kidd collected 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as the
Nets made the Heat look very ordinary in cruising to a 100-88
victory in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal
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scored 27 points and Richard Jefferson
added 20 in
slightly more than a half for third-seeded New Jersey, which was
swept by the Heat in the first round a year ago but wasted no
time letting them know that this will be a different series.
"You don't win or lose a series in Game 1, but this is
certainly a very big win," Jefferson said. "We'll have to come
out just as strong in Game 2 because you know Miami will be
ready to bounce back. We have to stay aggressive and attack the
basket. We can't settle for just this effort."
Considered a challenger for the NBA title, second-seeded Miami
struggled at times as it needed six games to dispatch Chicago in
the first round. The Heat repeatedly were beaten off the
dribble, made poor decisions with the ball and saw Shaquille O'Neal
limited by foul trouble.
With the quickness of Kidd, Carter and Jefferson and the
shooting of center Nenad Krstic
, the Nets appear to have the
formula for instilling fear in the Heat. Miami should be very
concerned about this loss, its first at home in the postseason.
"We kept them in front of us and tried to make them get us from
the outside," Kidd said. "Our perimeter defense forced them into
a lot of turnovers early on. We got our hands on some balls
and had some deflections and that kind of set the tone."
The Heat's inability to defend the perimeter was evident as they
allowed 64 points in the first half, matching the most in
franchise playoff history. Kidd and Jefferson ran wild, scoring
17 points each.
"We have to do a better job in transition," said Miami guard
, who scored a quiet 25 points. "They are a pretty
good transition team and today they really hurt us. They got
out and hit open shots, so we have to a better job of getting
back and making them see five guys in Game Two."
Miami committed nine turnovers in the first quarter. Two were
offensive fouls in the first five minutes by O'Neal, who sat for
the rest of the period.
"We have to take care of the ball. Every time we turned it
over, they pushed it right down our throats," Heat forward
said. "It looks like it might be one of those
kinds of series where there's going to be those touchy, feely,
picky fouls. We have to work through it and around it."
O'Neal, who did not speak to reporters after the game, picked up
two more fouls in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the third period
and took another seat, which jump-started a clinching 13-0 run
by the Nets. The superstar center finished with 20 points and 10
rebounds, mostly in the fourth quarter.
New Jersey answered Miami's opening basket with a 12-0 run and
never looked back. Making 19 of their first 25 shots, the Nets
held leads of 38-21 after one period, 64-46 at halftime and
82-54 midway through the third quarter, when boos rained down on
the home team.
"It was really important for us to get off to a good start,"
Nets coach Lawrence Frank
said. "Defensive stops led to some
transition opportunities ... The ball was moving and those were
great rhythm stops. We had a really good paint attack. ... It's
one game. We just have to keep on getting better."
"We were just not ready in the beginning of the game," Heat
coach Pat Riley
said. "The No. 1 point to our players when we
met was that we have to take care of the ball against them and
(we) have to be real strong with the ball and get back in
transition. You can't let them turn turnovers into points."
Kidd, who shot 29 percent from the field in the first round,
made 9-of-17 shots and added four steals. Krstic contributed 11
points for the Nets, who shot 49 percent (34-of-70)
despite a chilly final period.
Early in the third quarter, Jefferson sprained his right ankle,
left the game and did not return. X-rays were negative and his
status is unknown for Game 2 on Wednesday.
"I got bumped on my way up and when I came down my ankle
buckled," said Jefferson, who was wearing a walking boot after
the game. "I just sprained it. ... There's no swelling but
we'll wait to see what the MRI shows (Tuesday) and take it from
there. I can't say for sure how it will be (Wednesday) but I'm
a confident person and I believe this will turn out OK."
There may have been a little something to the season series.
New Jersey was a questionable call away from a four-game sweep
of Miami and continued its dominance without an explosion from
Carter, who averaged 38.5 points in those games.
When the Heat made a late surge and closed to 92-83 with 4:22
remaining, Carter made two free throws, a lefthanded layup
around O'Neal and another free throw before Kidd's jumper sealed
it at 99-86 with 1:56 left.
"We just had to remain patient and execute," said Carter, who
sank 15-of-19 free throws. "We knew Miami would make a run;
they're a great team and great teams do that. But we just had
to stay aggressive and attack the basket."
scored 12 points for Miami, which shot 39 percent
(27-of-69), including 4-of-22 from the arc.
"The things we talked about doing regarding Vince Carter, Jason
Kidd and Richard Jefferson as a team defensively, we did not
do," Heat forward Udonis Haslem
said. "Anytime you dig a hole
like that, it's highly unlikely you're going to come back and
Or as Miami backup center Alonzo Mourning
said before exiting
the locker room, "We got our (butts) kicked."