Sun, May 06, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Nets defeat Raptors to win series

FIRST-ROUND SUCCESS New Jersey fought to reach the second round of the playoffs for the fifth time in six years and will begin a series with Cleveland today

AFP , EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY

Richard Jefferson sank the decisive basket and then came up with a crucial steal on Friday as New Jersey edged Toronto 98-97 to win their NBA playoff series.

Late-game hero Jefferson scored 24 points, while Vince Carter had 21 for the Nets, who completed a four-games-to-two victory over the Raptors in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.

All-Star Jason Kidd added 18 points, eight rebounds and 15 assists for the Nets, who pushed their way to the second round of the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.

The Nets will visit the second-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers today.

The Nets, trailing 97-96 after Toronto's Chris Bosh missed an off-balance jumper with 16 seconds remaining, then called a time out.

Kidd took an inbounds pass and threw it to Jefferson, who drove the lane, spun in the paint and laid the ball in with eight seconds left to give the Nets a 98-97 lead.

Following Toronto's ensuing timeout, Jose Calderon attempted a pass to Bosh, but Jefferson made a leaping interception to seal the win for New Jersey.

Bosh, who finished with 23 points and nine assists, had given the Raptors a 97-96 lead with a 4m bank shot from the left block with 47 seconds left.

In a game that had 13 ties and 22 lead changes, the Nets trailed 46-43 at halftime before outscoring the Raptors by 10 points in the third quarter to take a 75-68 lead into the final period.

The Nets shot 49 percent, including 10-of-19 from 3-point range while the Raptors also finished at 49 percent.

T.J. Ford finished with 19 points and rookie Andrea Bargnani added 17 for Toronto, which has only one playoff series victory in its history, a first-round win against the New York Knicks in 2001.

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