- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 14, 2003

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — This time, the New Jersey Nets didn’t blow all of their big fourth-quarter lead against the Boston Celtics.

Most of it, but not all.

Richard Jefferson scored 25 points and made the Nets’ first basket of the quarter after they let Boston back with a 14-0 run, leading New Jersey to a 104-95 victory last night for a 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

Jason Kidd added 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, while Kenyon Martin had 14 points and 10 rebounds and again dominated his matchup with Boston’s Antoine Walker.

Walker had seven points on 3-for-15 shooting.

Paul Pierce, who turned his ankle late in the game, led the Celtics with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. But he also had six of Boston’s 21 turnovers, and Walker had five. Tony Delk added 19 points.

The best-of-7 series will move to Boston for Games3 and 4 tomorrow and Monday.

This game was similar to Game3 of last year’s conference finals between the teams. New Jersey took a 21-point lead into the final period of that contest yet lost the game.

The Nets took a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter, only to have Boston pull to 82-80 when Pierce hit two free throws with 7:49 to play.

Jefferson hit two free throws and Martin one to push the lead to five points with 6:33 to play.

A basket inside by Eric Williams cut the gap to three points, and it seemed the Celtics would get a chance to make it closer. With the shot clock winding down and the Nets’ bench screaming “butter” — the watchword to shoot in a hurry — Jefferson elevated on the right wing and nailed a jumper to give New Jersey an 87-82 lead with 5:26 left.

A missed shot by Walker and a 3-pointer by Kittles gave the Nets all the breathing room they would need, and Jefferson added some highlight film material with a reverse slam.

After using a 15-5 spurt at the end of the second quarter to take a 51-45 halftime lead, Kidd and the Nets seemed to take command in the third quarter, hitting 13 of 20 shots from the field, including nine of their first 11.

Kidd, who only had four points, three rebounds and two assists in the first half, had 13 points, four assists and four rebounds in the period. He had four points and three assists in a 12-point run that gave New Jersey a 71-55 lead, and he scored the final nine points to give the Nets a seemingly safe 82-66 edge entering the fourth quarter.

The second game of the series showed some different trends. Boston pushed the ball inside in the first half and held the Nets’ fast break in check for the opening 20 minutes.

Pierce, who again was the scoring constant for the Celtics, hit a layup for a 40-36 lead with 4:30 left in the half.

After that, the Celtics turned the ball over four times in a 15-5 run that gave New Jersey a 51-45 halftime lead. Jefferson and Jason Collins scored four points apiece in the burst in which all five Nets starters had points.

Notes — Kidd refused to discuss the suspension of Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan for comments Ryan made about Kidd’s wife. … The Nets bench nullified a defensive 3 seconds technical against Boston by yelling so much at referee Dick Bavetta that he called a technical, resulting in neither team taking a free throw. … NBA Commissioner David Stern was at the game. … Boston outscored New Jersey in the paint 52-32.

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