Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 1/8

Game 1: Saturday, January 8th
Game 2: Saturday, March 5th
Game 3: Sunday, March 13th
Game 4: Saturday, April 2nd

Magic 103

(35-38, 12-25 away)

Nets 102

(35-39, 20-17 home)

7:30 PM ET, April 2, 2005

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

1 2 3 4 T
ORL 25 25 22 31103
NJ 25 27 25 25102

Top Performers

Orl: S. Francis 33 Pts, 7 Reb, 5 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

NJ: N. Krstic 28 Pts, 11 Reb

Orlando wins season series 3-1

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The bus bringing the Magic to the arena took nearly two hours to make the 8-mile journey, and that was only the start of Orlando's problems.

Two starters were out. A player on a 10-day contract was taking big shots in the fourth quarter. The officials called a technical foul on Nets coach Lawrence Frank, then rescinded it after the free throw was made.

"It was hard, man. I fought through an uphill battle all game," Orlando guard Steve Francis said after the Magic refused to succumb to all sorts of adversity and defeated the New Jersey Nets 103-102 Saturday night to clinch the tiebreaker between the teams.

Francis had 33 points, five assists and seven rebounds for Orlando, which won the season series 3-1 with a gutty performance befitting of a team fighting to make the playoffs.

The Magic, missing starters Grant Hill and Jameer Nelson, had lost 11 of 14 coming in and were at risk of falling two games behind Philadelphia for eighth place in the East. Instead, Orlando passed New Jersey in the conference standings and sent the Nets to a crushing loss.

"We've been like that all year, fighting teams that don't really give us any respect," Francis said. "I still believe in our coach and what he's trying to do, and I believe in the players on this team regardless of who's injured, regardless of anything."

Rookie Nenad Krstic scored a career-high 28 points and Jason Kidd had 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Nets. Kidd had a chance to give New Jersey the win, but missed an open 20-footer from the right corner with 2 seconds left. The Nets could not control the rebound, and the Magic players were jubilant as they walked off the court.

"I just couldn't knock it down. I wish I could do it again," Kidd said. "It's not devastating. We're still chasing. We have eight games left and we have to win as many as we can and at the end of the day see where we finish."

Josh Howard added 15 points and DeShawn Stevenson had 14 for Orlando. Vince Carter had 21 for the Nets.

The game featured quite an oddity -- a technical foul that was rescinded, causing a point to be taken off the scoreboard. Frank was called for his second technical foul of the fourth quarter after he charged onto the court following a flagrant foul by Stacey Augmon against Krstic with 4:06 left.

After Pat Garrity made the technical free throw, referee Derrick Stafford rescinded the call and took the point off the board.

Stafford told a pool reporter he changed the call after realizing that Frank had come onto the court expecting an altercation. "He came as a peacemaker, he didn't say anything and he went to see about his player," Stafford said.

Krstic picked up a technical foul for shoving Augmon with 3:34 left, and Garrity made the foul shot for a 96-96 tie. Consecutive jumpers by Andre Barrett, playing on a 10-day contract, put Orlando ahead 100-96.

Carter hit a 3-pointer to give the Nets a 102-101 lead with 38 seconds left, and Francis made a pair of free throws with 25.5 seconds remaining to give the lead back to Orlando. Travis Best missed a 3 with 13 seconds left, but Kidd was able to grab the rebound while falling out of bounds and carom it off Howard.

That gave the Nets possession with 11.8 seconds left, and Kidd got an open look after an extra defender rushed over to guard Carter. But the shot missed, and New Jersey's chances of making the postseason for a fourth consecutive year took a serious hit.

"J-Kidd had a great look. I'd put my money on that any time," Carter said. "It's like going to Vegas or Atlantic City. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."

The game developed a pattern that kept repeating itself: The Nets would pull in front by a comfortable margin before the Magic fought back. New Jersey was ahead by 13 in the second quarter before Orlando pulled within two by halftime, then went ahead by 13 again in the third quarter only to see the Magic pull within five entering the fourth.

After Orlando pulled within two, New Jersey got its lead back to seven again before allowing the Magic's final comeback.

Game notes

Nets G Jacque Vaughn broke a bone in his right foot early in the first quarter. The seven-year veteran, who has started 34 games at shooting guard, will have surgery next week and is out for the remainder of the season. ... Orlando's bus from Manhattan was diverted because of a problem at the Lincoln Tunnel, which connects New York and New Jersey. ... Nelson missed his third straight game with a torn rib muscle, and Hill was a late scratch due to soreness from a left shin contusion -- the injury that caused him to miss three games early last month.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 103 102
FGM-FGA 32-69 (.464) 37-84 (.440)
3PM-3PA 3-8 (.375) 5-23 (.217)
FTM-FTA 36-46 (.783) 23-33 (.697)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-38 12-43
Assists 20 22
Turnovers 17 14
Steals 7 7
Blocks 6 3
Fast Break Points 17 12
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (0/1) 31 (2/0)
Largest Lead 4 13

Top Performers

New Jersey
Steve Francis Francis
Points: 33
Reb: 7
Ast: 5
Stl: 4
Blk: 1
Nenad Krstic Krstic
Points: 28
Reb: 11
Ast: 0
Stl: 0
Blk: 0