The New Jersey Nets defeated the Boston Celtics 94-76 Friday night to go up 3-0 in their Eastern Conference semifinal.
In the third game of last year's conference final, the Celtics erased a 21-point deficit -- the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in NBA playoff history -- to beat the Nets.
"We came up here and let that one get away," said Kenyon Martin, who led the Nets with 25 points. ``We didn't want to let that happen again.''
The Nets would accomplish another first in futility if they lose the series after leading 3-0. No team has ever blown such a lead, although three teams have come back to tie a series before losing Game 7. Game 4 of the best-of-seven matchup is Monday night in Boston.
Lakers 110, Spurs 95
In Los Angeles, from Jack Nicholson screaming at the officials to Devean George doing his best Willis Reed impersonation, there was a desperation surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers that brought out the best in them.
Playing with the focus and determination of a proud team facing a must-win situation, the Lakers defeated San Antonio 110-95 to cut the Spurs' lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Kobe Bryant displayed his usual offensive brilliance, scoring 10 of his 39 points in the first 1:36 of the fourth quarter to extend an 81-67 lead to 91-69.
Shaquille O'Neal had 21 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists; Derek Fisher scored 14 and Robert Horry had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Aside from Nicholson's tirade at the referees midway through the second quarter, the most shocking sight of the night was the return of George to the starting lineup four days after severely spraining his left ankle.
Just as Reed did for the New York Knicks in Game 7 of the NBA Finals 33 years ago against the Lakers, George scored the game's first four points on two jump shots. He finished with a career playoff-high 13 points as the Lakers never trailed.
Game 4 in the second-round playoff series will be played Sunday at Staples Center, with Game 5 Tuesday night in San Antonio.
Today at 8am, ERA will broadcast the Detroit ay Philadelphia (Game 3) live. Also today at 9:30, CTV will show the Dallas at Sacramento (Game 3) live. Videoland will broadcast the game San Antonio at LA Lakers (Game 4) at 9:30am tomorrow.