- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS Kerry Kittles hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 22.5 seconds left, and the New Jersey Nets beat the Indiana Pacers 85-84 last night to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Game 4 is Tuesday night, and the series moves back to New Jersey for a fifth game, if needed, Thursday night.
Kittles' 3 put New Jersey ahead 85-83 and came a possession after Reggie Miller hit his own 3 to give the Pacers the lead and send a sold-out Conseco Fieldhouse into a frenzy.
Jermaine O'Neal, who trash talked through the media with the Nets during the three-day break between games, took the ball in the low post, but his shot blocked by Aaron Williams.
O'Neal grabbed the rebound, put it back and it rimmed out. Again, he had the rebound, and this time was fouled by Keith Van Horn.
With 3.6 seconds left, O'Neal made the first free throw but missed the second.
Williams missed two free throws giving Indiana one last shot. Miller took the inbounds pass but missed his shot with six-tenths of a second left.
Jason Kidd led New Jersey with 24 points and 11 assists, Kenyon Martin scored 21 and Van Horn added 14. Kittles 3 was only his second basket in 11 shots from the field.
Miller, as he has done in so many playoff series before, carried Indiana, this time compensating for a frontcourt that never got on track.
The Pacers trailed by nine early in the third before going on a 12-2 run to take a 49-48 lead. A running jumper by Miller and jump shot by O'Neal pushed it to six.
But they could never put away the Nets. Van Horn hit an 18-footer early in the fourth and followed with two free throws as the Nets regained a 70-67 lead.
Indiana took the lead on consecutive baskets by Ron Artest and Jeff Foster, and neither team led by more than a point the rest of the game.
Artest tied the game at 80 with 1:53 left and Kidd followed with a baseline jumper to make it 82-80.
Then the frantic and thrilling final minute began.
The Pacers' frontcourt never got going in the first half. O'Neal missed all six shots, Brad Miller was 1-for-10 and Artest 1-for-4. Artest spent most of the first half on the bench after opening the game with three long jumpers that were out of his range.
Artest's willingness to shoot the jumper was a problem in the first two games as well, when he had made only five of 25 shots.
After vowing his 12-point performance in Game 2 would not repeated, O'Neal, selected Thursday as the NBA's Most Improved Player, again scored 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting.


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