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Archive for Wednesday, May 21, 2003

NBA Playoffs: Nets rally past Pistons again, 88-86

May 21, 2003

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— Down 11 points early in the fourth quarter, New Jersey was in dire need of offense from somebody -- anybody.

Kenyon Martin came through, scoring 14 of his team's 16 points in the comeback run as the Nets rallied to beat Detroit, 88-86, Tuesday night and 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."

The Nets head home for Thursday's Game 3 with two two-point victories -- neither of them pretty -- but they now have a load of history on their side. Only two NBA teams 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 Chauncey Billups. The team that has pulled so many out of its hat suddenly can't find the magic. The Pistons 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."

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 with about 30 seconds left, and Billups couldn't put any mustard on a three-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."

Not surprisingly, Kidd said it was just close defense.

"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 pump-faked, I just tried to get closer to him."

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