- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 12, 2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Jason Kidd’s series-long slump came to an end, Kenyon Martin was slap-happy with energy and the New Jersey Nets evened things up with the Detroit Pistons in yet another lopsided game.

Kidd had 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his seventh career postseason triple-double, scoring nine straight third-quarter points when the Nets broke the game open for a 94-79 victory in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal last night.

Kidd was shooting an abysmal 23 percent in the first three games of the series, all of which were decided by double-digit margins. He shot 8-for-15 in Game 4 and got plenty of support from Martin, Richard Jefferson, Kerry Kittles and Lucious Harris.

“I called it. He hadn’t had a triple-double in the series. He was due for one,” Jefferson said. “J-Kidd is not going to shy away from a challenge. Sooner or later, those shots are going to fall.”

The home team has won every game in this series, which is tied 2-2 and resumes Friday night at Detroit.

The Pistons dominated the first two games with their defense, but the Nets showed in Games 3 and 4 that they can look to more players than Detroit can for offense.

New Jersey’s defense was not too shabby, either, with Martin showing the most aggression while outplaying opposing power forward Rasheed Wallace, who aggravated a foot injury in the first half. Also, Chauncey Billups strained his back in the first quarter and had his second straight poor game.

“If Chauncey was healthy and Rasheed was healthy it wouldn’t have mattered tonight,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said. “They were great.

“To me, that’s the right way to play — the way they’re playing,” Brown said.

Detroit was a one-man show on offense, getting 30 points from Richard Hamilton and no more than eight from anyone else. Billups, defended by Kittles, shot 2-for-7 for six points, while the Nets’ centers were able to contain Ben Wallace, holding him to 15 rebounds following his 24-rebound performance in Game 3.

Martin had 16 points and 15 rebounds, Jefferson scored 19, Kittles added 14 and Harris 11.

“Both teams have gotten the job done at home, and we’ll see if that remains true,” Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. “We continue to get better, but we’re going to have to get it done on the road.”

Kittles scored the Nets’ first six points of the second half on jump shots, and Kidd scored the next nine beginning with a 3-pointer. That put New Jersey ahead 64-49, and the rout was on.

Martin fired up the crowd with his defense against Mehmet Okur, coming up with a steal leading to a breakaway layup and three-point play for Kidd, then blocking Corliss Williamson’s shot and then making a free throw to give New Jersey its first 20-point lead, 76-56.

On one play when Martin nearly stole the ball from Okur, it went out of bounds and Martin slapped the scorer’s table three times with his open right hand.

“One of our strengths is being able to feed off Kenyon’s emotion,” Kidd said. “We’re going to need that from his throughout, including on the road.”

The fans chanted Martin’s name toward the end of the third quarter, and he exited to a standing ovation and another chant after fouling out with 3:18 left and the Nets ahead by 16.

New Jersey had the two biggest offensive bursts of the first half, making five of its first six shots while Detroit was going 1-for-7. After Detroit pulled within two midway through the second quarter, the Nets had three steals in a span of 40 seconds as part of a 9-0 run for a 33-22 lead.

Rasheed Wallace, who has been bothered by plantar fascia in his left foot, came up limping and grimacing after scoring his first basket with 5:20 left in the half. But he played through the pain stayed in the game, helping the Pistons stay within seven at halftime.

“We need Sheed. I’m not going to sit here and lie and say we don’t. He’s a difference maker on our team,” Hamilton said.

Notes — Kidd’s last postseason triple-double came against Milwaukee on May. 1, 2003. He has 59 career regular-season triple-doubles, tied with Larry Bird for fourth-most in NBA history behind Oscar Robertson (181), Magic Johnson (138) and Wilt Chamberlain (78). … The Nets are beginning to draw more celebrities. Rap mogul Jay-Z sat with current flame Beyonce in the same seats occupied by rapper Snoop Dogg during Game 3.

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