Nets History Spotlight: Nets Top Raptors in Last Dance for the Jason Kidd Era
Jefferson comes up with winning basket and steal to clinch playoff series
It turned out to be the final ride for the Jason Kidd era Nets, one last thrill that closed out the most successful run in the team’s NBA history. With a 98-97 win over Toronto on May 4, 2007, the sixth-seeded Nets wrapped up a first-round upset of the third-seeded Raptors with their Game 6 victory.
Coming off a 49-33 season and the team’s fourth division title in five seasons, the 2006-07 Nets took a hit from injuries that cost them starting center Nenad Krstic for the season and dynamic forward Richard Jefferson for six weeks. But with Jefferson back in the lineup, the Nets closed the regular season with 10 wins in 13 games to finish 41-41, tied for sixth place with the Washington Wizards.
Back-to-back wins over the Wizards in early April — including the game in which Jason Kidd and Vince Carter each posted a triple-double — sealed a tiebreaker for the Nets and a date with Carter’s former team from Toronto.
Carter led the 2006-07 Nets with 25.2 points per game, his highest average in his four full seasons with the Nets. Kidd averaged 13.0 points, 9.2 assists and 8.2 rebounds, and Jefferson scored 16.3 points per game.
The Nets jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the series, taking control with a 102-81 rout in Game 4, which they led by 30 points going into the fourth quarter, with Carter scoring 27 points and Kidd putting up 17 points and 13 assists.
But the Raptors jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first quarter of Game 5, and the Nets came up short despite outscoring Toronto 54-39 in the second half, losing 98-96.
Back at home for Game 6, the Nets closed out the series in New Jersey.
A Bostjan Nachbar 3-pointer to open up the fourth quarter had the Nets leading 78-68, but the Raptors cut into that lead, and with just over five minutes to go, the Nets were up just 88-87. Carter and Jefferson would combine for the Nets’ final 10 points, the first eight from the free throw line.
A Chris Bosh jumper with 47.9 seconds to go put Toronto in front, but Jefferson spun to the rim on a drive for the go-ahead basket with 8.3 seconds left. At the other end, Jefferson swiped a pass in the lane to deny the Raptors on their final possession and seal the win.
“Richard did a great job,” said Nets coach Lawrence Frank after the game. “He went right to Bosh’s body and spun off him and got to the rim, and then he gets the game-winning steal at the end. I think you’ve got to give Richard a tremendous amount of credit. We were playing through Vince for a while and then we wanted to go and look at Richard, and he responded in a huge way.”
Jefferson led the Nets with 24 points, shooting 6-for-12. Carter, who averaged 25.0 points in the series, had 21, and Kidd put up 18 points and 15 assists.
It was the Nets’ ninth playoff series win in six seasons, including two trips to the NBA Finals. The six straight playoff appearances remain the longest streak in franchise history. But the ride would end in the conference semifinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, with LeBron James on the road to his first NBA Finals appearance.
Kidd averaged a triple-double in the playoffs with 14.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 10.9 assists per game in 12 playoff games in 2006-07. He remains the only player in NBA history to do so while playing more than five playoff games in a single season. (Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook each averaged triple-doubles in first-round playoff losses in 1962 and 2017, respectively).
The following season, the Nets dropped to 34-48, with Kidd traded midseason, and over the next 18 months, Jefferson and Carter would follow. After five straight seasons outside the playoffs and a first-round loss in 2013, the Nets’ next playoff series win would come, coincidentally, also against the Raptors, another first-round series that they clinched seven years to the day, on May 4, 2014.
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