Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Nets take 2-0 lead in Eastern finals

WHEN IT'S NEEDED Kenyon Martin scored just nine points in the first three quarters, but came through in the last 15 minutes with 16 points to help the Nets win

AP , AUBURN HILLS, MICHIGAN

New Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd sits on the sidelines during the first half in Game 2 of his team's NBA Eastern Conference final against the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Michigan, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Kenyon Martin scored 16 points in the fourth quarter as the New Jersey Nets beat the Detroit Pistons 88-86 Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

"I didn't have a great three quarters, so I wanted to come out in the fourth quarter and be aggressive and attack the rim," said Martin, who had 16 of his 25 points in the final period. "I got a couple of calls, a couple of shots fell for me. I got my team back into the game."

Richard Jefferson's two free throws with 48 seconds remaining were the winning points, but the Pistons had two chances to tie or win. Corliss Williamson missed a short hook in the final 30 seconds, while Chauncey Billups couldn't put any mustard on a 3-pointer at the buzzer with Jason Kidd in his face.

"I thought he pressed up into me with his body a little bit," said Billups, whose attempt came on an inbounds plays with 1.8 seconds left. "But they didn't call anything. So I guess it's not a foul. It shouldn't matter what time of the game -- a foul is a foul."

Martin finished with 25 points and nine rebounds for the Nets, who rallied from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit. They came back from 10 down in the third quarter in Sunday's 76-74 victory in Game 1.

The series moves to New Jersey for Game 3 on Thursday. Only two teams in NBA history have won a best-of-seven series after losing the first two games at home.

"We feel pretty good where we stand right now," Nets coach Byron Scott said.

As for the Pistons, they were left to regret another blown fourth-quarter lead. Another two-point loss. Another last-second shot that didn't go in, this time by Billups. The team that has pulled so many out of its hat suddenly can't find the magic. They have scored a total of 30 points in the two fourth quarters of this series.

"Forget the last play," coach Rick Carlisle said. "It shouldn't come down to the last play when you have a lead in the fourth like we did. We just made too many careless mistakes down the stretch: turnovers, defensive mistakes, a technical foul. We just did things you just can't do at this stage of the playoffs."

The Nets have won eight straight playoff games, including five in a row on the road.

Richard Hamilton, an offensive spark for the Pistons in the second half, led Detroit with 24 points, while Ben Wallace had seven points and 19 rebounds.

Kidd, who hit the winning shot in Game 1 with 1.4 seconds to go, had 20 points and seven assists for the Nets, while Jason Collins held his own against Wallace with 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.

"I didn't do too well in math, so I don't know how close," Kidd said. "I didn't jump. I just put my arm up to contest. Once he pumped faked, I just tried to get closer to him."

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