All Square

Nets defeat Pistons, even Eastern series

Posted: 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 Tuesday 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.''

Tuesday's games

New Jersey 94, Detroit 79, series tied 2-2

L.A. Lakers 98, San Antonio 90, series tied 2-2

Wednesday's games

Indiana at Miami, 4 p.m.

Minnesota at Sacramento, 6:30 p.m.

All Times ADT

Nets defeat Pistons, even Eastern series

All square

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.

Shaquille O'Neal added 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who won by outscoring the Spurs 55-37 after halftime.

Game 5 in the best-of-seven series, now tied 2-2, will be Thursday night in San Antonio, and Game 6 is Saturday night at Staples Center.

The Spurs extended their winning streak to 17 games by winning the first two of this series at home before the Lakers did the same thing exactly what happened when the teams met in the conference semifinals last year.

The Spurs closed that series by winning the last two games.

Bryant pleaded not guilty to his sexual assault charge in Eagle, Colo., on Tuesday afternoon, and arrived in plenty of time for the game. It was the fourth time he played a game following a day in court, including once in the Lakers' first-round series against Houston.

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