EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New Jersey Nets shook off the playoff jitters with a few things even more valuable in the postseason than a half-court offense -- Jason Kidd, a great defense and a big dose of self assurance.
Kidd had 20 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, Kenyon Martin shut down Jermaine O'Neal and Indiana's inside game and the cocky Nets beat the Pacers 95-79 Monday night to even their best-of-five first-round series at a game apiece.
''Jason had that slight edge tonight and I think everyone on our team knew this was a must-win,'' Nets coach Byron Scott said.
''I don't know if guys wanted to admit it, but we knew we had to win this game and Jason came out with a different attitude. He was pressing at both ends of the court. Kenyon started it off and everyone pretty much followed.''
Now this series is a best-of-three, starting with Game 3 on Friday at Indiana's Conseco Fieldhouse. Game 4 is a week from Tuesday.
Blame the gap on television, at least that's what NBA commissioner David Stern did before the game Monday night.
If a fifth game is necessary, it would be played on May 2.
''We understand that all the pressure is on us in Game 3 with the home-court advantage,'' said Reggie Miller, who led the Pacers with 26 points. ''They did what they had to do to tie the series and shift all the pressure back to us. It's up to us to respond.''
Heading into Game 2, the pressure was on the Nets after losing the home-court advantage with an 89-83 loss Saturday.
However, the Nets had a lot of heroes in addition to Kidd. Playing with a sore right wrist, Martin was a big one.
Scott walked up to him early in the day and asked him if he wanted to guard O'Neal, who scored 30 points Saturday.
Martin gladly accepted.
''I just didn't let him catch the ball in his sweet spot, in the right blocks,'' Martin said. ''If he got it, I contested every shot. The shots he was making in the first game, he wasn't making tonight.''
SuperSonics 98, Spurs 90
SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs sure could have used David Robinson.
The Seattle SuperSonics used strong inside play from Vin Baker and Rashard Lewis to beat San Antonio 98-90 Monday night and even their best-of-five playoff series at one game apiece.
Gary Payton led Seattle with 21 points, and Lewis had 19. Baker had 15 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter, and Desmond Mason scored 15. Payton also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Playing without his frontcourt running mate, Tim Duncan led all scorers with 32 points and 12 rebounds. Steve Smith had 16 points, Tony Parker added 13 and Bruce Bowen 11 for San Antonio.
The Spurs went the last 5:25 without a field goal.
Robinson didn't play because of a lower-back injury that forced him to miss the last three games of the regular season. The 7-foot-1 center started Game 1 against Seattle but left in the first quarter when his back tightened up. San Antonio won easily anyway.
It was a different story Monday night.
Baker scored seven points in the third quarter, and Jerome James made a pair of key baskets late in the period as Seattle turned a two-point deficit into a two-point lead going into the final 12 minutes.
Bowen started the fourth with his third 3-pointer of the game to put the Spurs up by one, but the Sonics went on a 10-2 run to go ahead 83-76 with about eight minutes remaining.
San Antonio got its chance when James fouled out with 3:48 left and Baker picked up his sixth a minute later with the Sonics up, 91-85.
Both teams spent most of their time on the free-throw line, with the only basket coming on a breakaway dunk by Mason.
The first half was defined by offensive streaks by both teams, and a determined effort by the officials to keep a grip on the game when play got rough. Four technical fouls were called in the half, two on each side.
With the Sonics ahead 16-15 midway through the first quarter, San Antonio went on an 8-0 run made up of Duncan's dunk and six foul shots.
After a pair of free throws by Lewis, Duncan connected on an 8-footer to start an 11-4 Spurs burst highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers by Bowen in the final 1:13 of the period.
Seattle erased the 14-point deficit by the middle of the second quarter. Payton started a 19-4 Sonics run with a driving finger roll and put his team up 41-40 by working inside for a layup at 5:56.
During that stretch, San Antonio managed only one basket in eight attempts, and shot 6-for-15 from the floor in the period.
Terry Porter broke a 44-all tie with the first of his two 3-pointers of the half, helping San Antonio build a six-point margin. Baker and Payton connected on jumpers in the last minute to close the gap to 54-52 at the break.
Notes: Robinson had not missed a playoff game since 1992. The Spurs were swept by Phoenix in the opening round that year. ... On this day in 1990, Robinson was named the NBA's Rookie of the Year after averaging 24 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game. ... Payton is nearing the top spot among Sonics in playoff scoring. His 1,597 points are eight shy of Fred Brown's career mark. ... Payton went 0-for-7 on field goals in the first quarter and 5-for-7 in the second.
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.