Nets close out Pacers with Game 6 win
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) – Richard Jefferson scored a team-high 30
points and also had a pivotal block down the stretch, as the New Jersey Nets
fended off the Indiana Pacers, 96-90, to close out their first-round series at
Vince Carter added 24 points and seven assists while Nenad Krstic sprang for
17 points on 7-of-11 shooting for the Nets, who won the series, four games to
two, and advanced to challenge second-seeded Miami in the Eastern Conference
semifinals. The Heat finished off the Chicago Bulls in Game 6 of that series
Jason Kidd barely missed a triple-double with eight points, 12 rebounds and 11
assists for New Jersey.
Anthony Johnson shot a sizzling 16-of-23 from the field and finished with a
career-high 40 points for Indiana, which was playing without Peja Stojakovic.
The star forward was unable to play because of a sore right knee, and missed
three other games during this series — all Pacer losses — because of the
ailment as well.
“I tried to carry the team,” Johnson said. “Sometimes there’s a lack of
professionalism and understanding. We need to give more effort to the team
Jermaine O’Neal had 21 points and six rebounds, and Danny Granger donated 13
points in the loss.
The Nets appeared poised for a comfortable victory, as they played front-
runner for almost the entire second half and owned a nine-point edge with 5:12
to play following a Jefferson jump shot.
With their season in the balance, though, the Pacers lashed back with seven
straight points to move within two. Johnson started the charge with one of his
three three-pointers on the night, and O’Neal’s turnaround jumper finished
things off with 3:34 remaining to make it 87-85.
New Jersey, however, made enough plays down the stretch to maintain the lead
and claim Game 6.
“Tonight’s game wasn’t pretty, but in the playoffs it doesn’t matter how you
get it done just as long as you get it done,” Jefferson said.
Johnson continued his hot shooting in the final minutes, dropping in a trey
from the top of the arc with 56 ticks on the clock that again brought Indiana
within two at 92-90. After a defensive stop the Pacers went on the attack
again, and O’Neal hauled in an offensive rebound in the paint and went back up
for a layup to try and knot the game. Jefferson leapt into the air behind
O’Neal and swatted him clean, though, to give possession back to New Jersey.
Krstic hit two free throws with 14.9 seconds left and Jefferson added a pair
from the line for the final margin.
“I think the second half helped us in our growth moving into the second round,
where the stakes are higher,” Kidd said.
The game started off well for Indiana, as it used a 10-2 spurt late in the
first quarter to move ahead by five, and finished the stanza up 26-21 after
Jackson nailed a long jumper from the wing at the buzzer.
Carter caught fire in the second, however — scoring eight of his 12 first-
half points in the frame — to help New Jersey pull even at 41 by
New Jersey then started the third quarter on a 16-6 run to move ahead by
double digits. Kidd had a pair of three-pointers in the spurt, which was
capped by a Jefferson three-point play with 7:32 remaining to make it 57-47.
Indiana rallied late in the third to cut its deficit to 73-69 heading into the
final 12 minutes.
Trailing 71-61 with two minutes to play in the third quarter, the Pacers
responded with back-to-back treys by Austin Croshere and Granger that made it
a four-point game. Johnson added a jumper moments later to pull Indiana
within two, 71-69, with 47 ticks on the clock. Clifford Robinson countered
with a running jumper for New Jersey that made it a four-point margin at the
end of three.
Indiana was also again without center Jeff Foster (strained back) and guard
Jamaal Tinsley (sore right Achilles)…The Pacers have lost four of their last
five contests when facing elimination. They have now lost four straight Game
6s in the postseason…The last time these two teams met in the postseason,
New Jersey defeated the Pacers, 3-2, in the first round of the 2001-02
playoffs…Jefferson was 10-of-13 from the field…New Jersey outrebounded the