New Jersey wins series 4-2 (Game 5 of 6)

New Jersey wins series 4-2

Game 1: Saturday, April 19th
Game 2: Tuesday, April 22nd
Game 3: Thursday, April 24th
Game 4: Saturday, April 26th
Game 5: Tuesday, April 29th
Game 6: Thursday, May 1st

Bucks 82

(42-40, 17-24 away)

Nets 89

(49-33, 33-8 home)

    7:00 PM ET, April 29, 2003

    IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIL 22 16 23 2182
    NJ 20 24 17 2889

    Top Performers

    Milwaukee: T. Kukoc 18 Pts, 8 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl

    New Jersey: R. Jefferson 17 Pts, 16 Reb, 2 Ast

    Jefferson has 17 points and 16 boards in Nets' win

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey Nets beat the Milwaukee Bucks at the perimeter game, then sealed their Game 5 victory by hitting foul shots for a change.

    Richard Jefferson

    Richard Jefferson had 17 points and a career-best 16 rebounds and the Nets atoned for a foul-line disaster in the previous game by hitting 11 of 12 free throws in the final 2:35 to beat the Bucks 89-82 and take a 3-2 lead in the series.

    "That's the game, redemption and having a second chance,'' Jason Kidd said after the Nets came through, three days after missing nine of 13 free throws late in regulation of an overtime loss. "The free throws presented themselves and the same guys went up there and knocked them down.''

    Kerry Kittles hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for the defending Eastern Conference champions, who can clinch the best-of-seven series by winning Thursday in Milwaukee -- or in New Jersey on Saturday.

    "It's about surviving, they are not all going to be a Picasso painting, pretty,'' said Kidd, who had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists in a game that featured eight technical fouls, 62 personal fouls, 70 free throws and lots of lousy shooting.

    "That was a T.J. painting, a finger painting,'' Kidd said, equating the game to a work of his 4-year-old son. "You just say it looks good. The thing is at this time of the year all you want to do is win, and that's what we did.''

    Toni Kukoc had 18 points and Sam Cassell and Gary Payton added 16 apiece for Milwaukee, which had only one field goal in the final 6:21.

    "We've been in this situation before,'' Cassell said. "We're going back home. It's going to be a heck of a game. They have the momentum. They have the advantage. They just need one game to close it out. In all my years, the toughest to win is the one to close it, and we're not losing confidence.''

    The Bucks had five chances to take the lead in the final 6{ minutes and missed every shot, the last a pull-up 15-footer by Cassell with about 2:38 to go.

    "We didn't execute in the fourth quarter,'' Payton said. "We had a lot of opportunities to go up and we didn't do well. We turned the ball over, missed shots, took poor shots.''

    The game had a little ugliness at the end when Cassell and Kenyon Martin, who scored just nine points in a foul-plagued night, engaged in a shoving match.

    But that's just the way this game was played.

    Martin's foul problems forced the Nets to use a three-guard offense at times. It worked to perfection in the fourth quarter when Kittles, who was 2-for-10 in the first three quarters, hit three 3-pointers, the last for a 74-71 lead with 6:21 to play.

    "No matter how I'm shooting, I know I have to make shots to help this team win,'' said Kittles, who finished with 15 points ."If the shot is not falling early, no matter how many I miss, I know I'm going to get other opportunities to help us out, so I have to stick with it, especially when the other team is forcing us to play half court.''

    Desmond Mason's two free throws cut the Nets' lead to 76-75 with 3:48 to go. The next points weren't scored until Collins hit two free throws with 2:35 left, and that started a run of six straight points from the foul line.

    New Jersey would eventually hit 10 straight, and Kidd made a tough shot in the lane with just over a minute to go to put it away.

    "They played well down the stretch, they did what they had to do,'' Kukoc said.

    The Nets had an 8-2 run late in the third quarter to take a 61-57.

    However, New Jersey squandered the lead in the final 3.7 seconds, allowing Payton to score on a layup and sending Michael Redd to the foul line for two shots after a turnover on the inbounds play.

    Despite hitting one of their first 11 shots and having Martin pick up three fouls, the Nets led 44-38 at the half.

    The key for New Jersey was using the small lineup, which not only scored but did an outstanding job playing perimeter defense. Kidd and fellow guards Harris and Kittles were joined on the floor by Jefferson and Collins.

    The odd lineup closed the half with a 16-8 spurt. Kidd had two three-point plays in the run and Jefferson scored five points, including another three-point play.

    Jefferson finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds in the half.

    Game notes

    There was a problem with the clock in the opening minute after referee Joe Crawford inadvertently started it after a foul call. It took about three minutes for the problem to be straightened out, but the flow was taken out of the game and no one ever seemed to get it back. ... Martin missed the Nets shootaround on Tuesday morning with an upset stomach. ... T.J. Kidd, who broke a collarbone when his father fell on him in Game 2, sat behind the Nets' bench in the first quarter and returned to his normal courtside seat the rest of the game. ... Crawford had a short fuse and called five straight technical fouls. Jim Capers broke the streak, calling one on Bucks coach George Karl late in the third quarter.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 82 89
    FGM-FGA 26-76 (.342) 27-80 (.338)
    3PM-3PA 4-18 (.222) 4-14 (.286)
    FTM-FTA 26-32 (.813) 31-38 (.816)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-40 17-54
    Assists 12 20
    Turnovers 12 16
    Steals 7 6
    Blocks 3 4
    Fast Break Points 1 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 32 (5/0) 30 (3/0)

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Toni Kukoc Kukoc
    Points: 18
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Richard Jefferson Jefferson
    Points: 17
    Reb: 16
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0