Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/7

Game 1: Tuesday, December 7th
Game 2: Wednesday, December 22nd
Game 3: Sunday, February 27th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 5th

Cavaliers 98

(31-23, 10-18 away)

Nets 104

(25-32, 16-12 home)

1:00 PM ET, February 27, 2005

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 20 26 29 2398
NJ 30 28 25 21104

Top Performers

Cle: L. James 28 Pts, 4 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl

NJ: V. Carter 34 Pts, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

James with 28 points, seven assists in loss

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Vince Carter and Jason Kidd had no problem handling the old triangle-and-two defense that helped the Cleveland Cavaliers wipe out a 21-point deficit.

The New Jersey Nets' two leaders just needed some fourth-quarter help on Sunday, and Travis Best finally gave it to them -- after missing his first six shots.

Carter had 34 points and 11 rebounds and Kidd added 14 points and 12 assists, including one on a backbreaking 3-pointer by Best with 1:13 to play, as the Nets held off LeBron James and the Cavaliers 104-98.

"It was the weirdest thing. I hadn't seen the triangle-and-two since high school," said Carter, who hit 10 of 18 shots in notching his 15th straight 20-point game. "It got us out of whack a bit, but we kept fighting and stuck it out."

Down by 21 in the second quarter and 20 midway through the third, the Cavaliers finally woke up and cut the Nets' lead to eight points entering the final quarter.

New Jersey missed its first seven shots and former Net Lucious Harris tied the game at 83 with a jumper with 8:38 to go.

Nenad Krstic, who had 15 points, sandwiched two free throws around a jumper by Carter to give New Jersey an 87-83 lead.

Every time Cleveland got close Carter, who played the final 8:50 with five fouls, and Kidd came up big in sending the Cavaliers to their sixth straight road loss.

A 3-pointer by Carter with 5:22 to go gave New Jersey a 90-85 advantage. A 5-footer by McInnis later cut the margin to 92-89, but Kidd nailed a 3-pointer with 3:48 to go.

An tip-in by Ilgauskas pulled Cleveland within 95-93 with 2:06 to play.

However, Carter, who was 10-for-18 from the field, hit a fadeaway jumper and Best made his only basket after being set up once again by Kidd, who added four free throws and a big steal in the final 45.9 seconds.

"We had a lot of open shots, but we just didn't make the shots and let them get back in the game," said Kidd, who also had eight rebounds. "You just have to keep finding the open guy and in this case it was Travis. We kept giving him the ball and you have to have confidence in your teammates to make the shots. He made one. That's all it takes sometimes."

Best said it's easy to stop shooting after you've missed five or six in a row.

"But then you look into the eyes of your teammates and they give you the ball without hesitation," he said. "I didn't have too much rhythm all game, but once Jay and Vince took control, I knew I would get some open shots. The last one I took, I really stepped into it and I felt it was going down."

James, who did not take a shot until late in the first quarter, had 28 points, seven assists and five of the Cavaliers' 20 turnovers. He played 45 minutes despite battling a cold.

Jeff McInnis had 23 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 20 points and 18 rebounds, which tied his season high.

"You have to give them credit," said Ilgauskas, who has scored at least 20 points in 11 of 14 games. "After we got close, they didn't panic and made some shots."

The Cavaliers (31-23) are starting a tough stretch of games that includes contests with San Antonio, Seattle, Philadelphia, Miami and Orlando.

"This is not the way we wanted to start," McInnis said after Cleveland lost its second straight. "But this is one game. It's a tough loss. When you fight back from 20 down you want to get the win. We just have to keep playing."

New Jersey seemingly took control midway through the second quarter, when Krstic hit two free throws to cap a 29-9 run that gave the Nets a 46-25 lead.

Game notes

The NBA is expected to announce approval of the sale of the Cavaliers to Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert early this week. Gilbert agreed to purchase the franchise for $375 million from owner Gordon Gund, who is keeping a 10-percent share of the team. ... The Nets were 34-for-39 from the free throw line. Cleveland was 23-of-28. The Cavs were called for four technical fouls by the crew of Sean Corbin, Ed Malloy and Blane Reichelt. Coach Paul Silas, McInnis, Drew Gooden and Robert Traylor were whistled. Traylor's came in the third quarter after he shoved Carter down to the court after being hacked repeatedly. ... New Jersey has won seven straight at home against Cleveland.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 98 104
FGM-FGA 35-84 (.417) 32-79 (.405)
3PM-3PA 5-12 (.417) 6-15 (.400)
FTM-FTA 23-28 (.821) 34-39 (.872)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 22-49 9-32
Assists 19 26
Turnovers 20 11
Steals 5 13
Blocks 6 8
Fast Break Points 10 19
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (4/0) 22 (0/0)
Largest Lead 2 21

Top Performers

New Jersey
LeBron James James
Points: 28
Reb: 4
Ast: 7
Stl: 2
Blk: 0
Vince Carter Carter
Points: 34
Reb: 11
Ast: 1
Stl: 2
Blk: 1