New Jersey wins series 4-0 (Game 1 of 4)

New Jersey wins series 4-0

Game 1: Monday, May 5th
Game 2: Wednesday, May 7th
Game 3: Friday, May 9th
Game 4: Monday, May 12th

Celtics 93

(44-38, 19-22 away)

Nets 97

(49-33, 33-8 home)

    7:00 PM ET, May 5, 2003

    IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

    1 2 3 4 T
    BOS 23 23 27 2093
    NJ 20 29 23 2597

    Top Performers

    Bos: P. Pierce 34 Pts, 5 Reb, 8 Ast, 4 Stl, 2 Blk

    NJ: J. Kidd 15 Pts, 6 Reb, 9 Ast, 2 Stl

    Kidd and Martin a bit too much for Celtics

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The Boston Celtics had the last chance. The New Jersey Nets got the first win.

    Kenyon Martin overcame foul problems to score 21 points, and Paul Pierce spoiled a 34-point effort by missing the only shot that really mattered for Boston in a 97-93 New Jersey victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal Monday night.

    "It was back and forth,'' said Jason Kidd, who added 15 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Nets. "It's going to be like that the whole series. You've got two talented teams who will try to force their will and style on one another. It's just a matter of who has the ball last.''

    Pierce had it with the Nets ahead 96-93 with just under 10 seconds to play in the rematch of last year's conference final. He used a pick at the top of the circle and had an open look when Kidd and Richard Jefferson seemed to back off.

    "I thought I got a great look,'' said Pierce, who hit one of four 3-pointers on a night the Celtics were 9-for-28 from long range. "It felt good coming out of my hands. It was a little short. What more can you ask for? Down three, you get a good look at the end of the game, and maybe you get it into overtime.''

    Martin got the rebound and hit a free throw with 5.9 seconds to play. The power forward made four free throws in the final 45 seconds.

    "This is a tough loss for us in a hard-fought game,'' Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said. "I felt that we were in position to win the basketball game and we just didn't get it done down the stretch.''

    If the rest of the best-of-seven series is as good this one, the matchup will rival last year's showdown the Nets won in six games.

    "That was a great win for us to start the series,'' Nets coach Byron Scott said. "You have to give Boston a lot of credit. They're a very, very good basketball team.''

    Game 2 is Wednesday night at the Meadowlands.

    Kerry Kittles had 17 points for New Jersey and Jefferson added 13 and nine rebounds. Aaron Williams added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Nets.

    Eric Williams had 15 points for Boston, while Walter McCarty and Antoine Walker each added 14 points for the Celtics, who only got 16 points from everyone else.

    Neither team led by more than five points in the fourth quarter, with the Nets taking the lead for good at 87-85 on two free throws by Jason Collins with 3:16 to play.

    After Walker forced a shot in the lane, Kidd drove the length of the court for a layup.

    The Celtics, who lost three of four games to New Jersey by an average margin of 21 points in the regular season, wouldn't go away. Pierce got a long rebound of a missed 3 by Tony Delk and hit a 3-pointer to close to 89-88. Walker, who was 6-of-20 from the field, missed a 3-pointer that would have given Boston the lead.

    Jefferson scored on a fast break off that missed shot with 1:39 to play.

    Boston closed the gap to 91-90 when Eric Williams made two free throws. Martin, who picked up three quick fouls in the first half, hit one free throw with 45 seconds to go.

    With the crowd chanting defense, the Nets left Delk wide open for a go-ahead 3, but again the shot missed badly. Martin hit two free throws to give New Jersey a 94-90 lead with 24 seconds to play.

    J.R. Bremer closed the gap with another 3-pointer from the corner with 15 seconds to play. Kidd pushed the lead back to three with two free throws, then Pierce had his chance to tie the game and missed.

    Kittles hit three 3-pointers, Martin made three baskets, including a three-point play, and Kidd hit three consecutive free throws in in 19-9 third-quarter run that gave the Nets a 68-57 lead.

    It seemed New Jersey was ready to roll. Instead, the Nets nearly rolled over. They hit only one of their final 13 shots in the period and Celtics finished with a 16-4 spurt, giving Boston a 73-72 lead going to the fourth quarter.

    The Celtics could not have asked for a better first half.

    Pierce went to the foul line 15 times and scored 17 points. Walker had 11. McCarty hit all three of his 3-pointers and the Nets had Martin and Collins pick up three fouls apiece. Martin even got a technical foul.

    Still, the Nets led 49-46 at the break.

    Game notes

    Kidd averaged a triple double in last year's East Conference finals against the Celtics. ... McCarty was 4-of-6 from 3-point range. ... Pierce was 15-of-20 from the free throw line. ... New Jersey outrebounded Boston 44-30. ... Boston's four offensive rebounds were the fewest by a Nets opponent in playoff history. ... Martin has scored 20 or more points in seven of the Nets' eight playoff games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 93 97
    FGM-FGA 33-75 (.440) 34-81 (.420)
    3PM-3PA 9-28 (.321) 6-18 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 18-24 (.750) 23-28 (.821)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-30 10-44
    Assists 25 24
    Turnovers 15 18
    Steals 9 6
    Blocks 5 4
    Fast Break Points 2 9
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 28 (1/0) 23 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Paul Pierce Pierce
    Points: 34
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 2
    Jason Kidd Kidd
    Points: 15
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0