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Archive for Monday, May 27, 2002

Nets hope to rebound against Celts

May 27, 2002

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— On a day meant for rest and reflection, the New Jersey Nets had plenty of time for both Sunday.

A day after an unprecedented fourth-quarter collapse left them trailing the Boston Celtics 2-1 in the Eastern Conference finals, the task the Nets faced was a daunting one trying to forget such a frustrating failure so that it won't carry over into Game 4 tonight.

"It feels (as if) we lost the series, but we haven't," Nets forward Kenyon Martin said. "So we've got to find some way to bounce back. If we don't bounce back (today), I think it'll carry over until tomorrow. And if it carries over until tomorrow, we might as well just pack up and go home for the summer."

Aside from coach Byron Scott, none of the Nets had ever experienced a level of disappointment on such a grand scale.

Yes, it was only one loss. Still, it was such a horrible defeat that there was no easy way to simply shrug it off.

After taking a 21-point lead into the fourth quarter, New Jersey was outscored 41-16 in the fourth and lost 94-90. Scott canceled practice Sunday and held a brief film session instead, then sent his players out to find some sort of a diversion.

Jason Kidd said he planned to enjoy Boston, while Richard Jefferson thought an IMAX movie might be the right cure.

Martin wasn't quite sure what he would do.

"It happened, and every channel you turn on, somebody's talking about it," he said. "It's hard to watch TV, it's hard to have your phone on, its hard to do anything because everybody wants to know what happened."

In NBA playoff history, no team had ever lost when bringing a lead of more than 18 points into the fourth quarter. The Nets' largest lead was 26 early in the third.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since 1980 teams that began the fourth quarter of a playoff game with a lead of 19 or more points were 185-0.

Looking into his players' eyes as the lead evaporated Saturday, Scott said he "saw shock more than anything."

The Celtics weren't just happy to come away with the victory, they were downright jubilant. Paul Pierce said he went out to dinner after the game and received a standing ovation at a restaurant. Tony Delk and Walter McCarty were likely comparing it to their 1994 victory over LSU, when Kentucky came back from a 31-point deficit with less than 15 minutes left.

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