Tuesday , May , 09 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: Nets have turned up the heat in Miami

(Sports Network) – New Jersey captured Game 1 of its Eastern Conference
semifinals series in impressive fashion. The Nets defeated the second-seed
Miami Heat, 100-88, at AmericanAirlines Arena to take the early lead in the
best-of-seven set.

All-Star Vince Carter continued to lead the third-seeded Nets in the
postseason, as he scored a game-high 27 points, grabbed eight rebounds and
dished out six assists in Game 1’s victory.

“I think we were just focused from the beginning,” said Carter after Game 1’s
win. “We wanted to come out and be aggressive and show everyone that we could
compete. We do have a lot of respect for the Miami Heat because they are one
of the best teams in the East.”

Carter was 6-for-15 from the floor and 15-of-19 from the foul line in 39-plus
minutes of action in the series opener against the Heat. The North Carolina
product is averaging team-highs in points (28.9 ppg) and rebounds (8.1 rpg) in
the postseason. He has also handed out 5.7 assists per contest.

Starting point guard Jason Kidd had an excellent outing in Game 1 for New
Jersey. He finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Kidd, who
entered the contest shooting just 29.2 percent from the floor in the
postseason, was 9-for-17 from the field, including 4-for-6 from beyond the
arc. He also collected four steals and was in control of the game for his 43-
plus minutes on the court.

“I thought the key to the game was Jason’s play,” said Miami head coach Pat
Riley after Game 1’s loss. “He was as good as I’ve seen him tonight.

New Jersey forward Richard Jefferson scored 20 points, pulled down four
boards, and handed out five assists before injuring his right ankle during the
third quarter. He did not return after the injury, and played just under 23
minutes and was 7-for-11 from the field.

Jefferson is confident that he will be fine and ready to go when the series
resumes.

“I got bumped on my way up, and my ankle buckled,” said Jefferson. “It’s just
a sprained ankle. The X-rays were negative. There is no swelling. I’ll be
fine.”

Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade were Miami’s top two performers in the loss.
Wade ended with 25 points, while Shaq netted 20 and pulled down a game-high 10
rebounds. The Heat shot just 39.1 percent from the field, including a dismal
4-of-22 (18.2 percent) from three-point range.

The Nets made 48.6 percent (34-for-70) of their attempts from the floor,
including 40.9 percent (9-of-22) from beyond the arc.

“We have to do a better job in transition,” said Wade. “They are a pretty good
transition team and today they really hurt us. They go out and hit open shots
so we have to do a better job on getting back and making them see five guys
in Game 2.”

Winning Game 1 on the road was huge for New Jersey, which was swept by the
Heat, 4-0, in the first round of last year’s postseason. The Nets have stolen
homecourt advantage and have a chance to go home with a 2-0 lead if they can
duplicate Game 1’s performance in the second contest of the set.

Carter, Jefferson and Kidd showed Miami in the opener that they were not to
be taken lightly. The Nets’ talented trio is athletic and is running on all
cylinders. Look out Heat!

NJN MIA