<
>

Jefferson has 17 points and 16 boards in Nets' win

5/2/2003

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 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.