This Week in Nets History: May 11
The Nets clinch the final ABA championship
Every Monday, we’ll take a look back and recognize significant dates in Nets history that occurred in the upcoming calendar week.
May 13, 1976
In the final game in ABA history, the Nets beat the Denver Nuggets 112-106 to clinch their second ABA championship. The last season of the league’s nine-year run was tenuous. By the time the Nets clinched the title, only six teams remained in the league from the 10 that had planned to begin the season. Baltimore and San Diego never made it to opening night, and Utah folded mid-season. The Virginia Squires — Julius Erving’s original team — actually folded during the championship series. The Nets jumped to a 3-1 lead in the series, but Denver — coached by future Nets coach Larry Brown — won Game 5, and then took a 22-point lead in Game 6 at Nassau Coliseum. The Nets came back behind John Williamson, who scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, 22 in the second half, and 28 overall. Erving, who averaged 37.7 points per game in the finals, had 31 points and 19 rebounds in his final game as a Net.
May 14, 2004
The Nets beat the Detroit Pistons 127-120 in three overtimes to take a 3-2 lead in their conference semifinal series as Richard Jefferson scores 31 points with 11 rebounds. After their third straight division title, the Nets swept the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, but dropped the first two games of the series against the Pistons on the road. They rebounded with two wins at the Meadowlands and headed back to Detroit for Game 5. Detroit’s Chauncey Billups banked in a 40-footer in the final second of regulation to tie the game at 88 and send it on a path to taking four hours to complete. Free throws from Jefferson tied the game in the final minute of each of the first two overtimes. With the Nets leading 119-118, Brian Scalabrine’s 3-pointer gave them a 122-118 lead with 41.5 seconds remaining, and Jefferson made four free throws in the final 10 seconds to seal the game. Jefferson scored 18 of his 31 points in the overtime periods. Kenyon Martin had 22 points and nine rebounds and Kerry Kittles had 20 points and 11 rebounds. With a chance to clinch the series at home in Game 6 two days later, the Nets dropped an 81-75 final, and their bid for a third straight NBA Finals appearance ended with a Game 7 loss in Detroit.
May 15, 2002
The Nets defeat the Charlotte Hornets 103-95 in Game 5 to clinch their playoff series and advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time. After going to a decisive fifth game with Indiana in the first round, the top-seeded Nets cruised past the Hornets four games to one. In the clinching game, Jason Kidd had 23 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds and five steals. The Nets would go on to make their first NBA Finals appearance.
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