Saturday , Apr , 21 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Nets hold off Toronto to win playoff opener

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) – Richard Jefferson scored 28 points and Bostjan
Nachbar added 16, with a key three-pointer late in the fourth quarter, as the
New Jersey Nets held on for a 96-91 victory over the Toronto Raptors in the
opener of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Air Canada Centre.

Vince Carter was ineffective from the field in his first playoff game as an
opponent at his former home, making only 5-of-19 shots and finishing with 16
points. Jason Kidd contributed eight points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in the
victory.

“It is always good to start off the playoffs with a win no matter if you’re
home or on the road,” said Kidd. “Our job is not done. It’s the first one to
four [wins], not the first one to one.”

Chris Bosh, saddled with foul trouble for most of the first half, scored 22
points for Toronto, which won the Atlantic for its first-ever division title
and earned the third seed in the playoffs.

T.J. Ford added 21 points and Anthony Parker chipped in 16 for the Raptors,
who will try to even the best-of-seven series in Game 2 on Tuesday in Toronto.

“Everybody now has one game under their belt,” said Ford. “We’ll just regroup
tomorrow and go over our mistakes and get ready for Tuesday.”

The Nets blew most of a 15-point lead and held a tenuous 84-83 edge with just
over 2 1/2 minutes to play when Nachbar drilled a three-pointer from the left
corner. It was just the second basket for the Nets in the fourth quarter.

Carter then hit one free throw and Nachbar made two to extend the New Jersey
lead to seven.

A few moments later, Toronto pulled within four on a three-point play by Bosh
with 1:15 left and had a chance to draw closer with 40 seconds to play, but
Bosh missed a baseline jumper.

Kidd missed a three-pointer for New Jersey, but Mikki Moore grabbed the
offensive rebound and was fouled. He made both free throws for a 94-88 lead
with 15.3 seconds to play.

Parker drilled a long three for the Raptors after a timeout, but Carter sank
one free throw and Kidd hit another in the closing seconds to seal it.

“We had our opportunities, we just made some mistakes at the wrong time and
the mistakes we made are just easy to correct,” said Raptors head coach Sam
Mitchell.

The Raptors trailed by as many as 15 late in the third quarter and entered the
fourth down 78-65. However, a pair of three-pointers by Jose Calderon and one
from Parker fueled a 17-5 run to open the period. Calderon’s driving layup
with just over four minutes left pulled Toronto within 83-82, but the Raptors
were never able to take the lead.

“I think Toronto answered virtually every run we had and we were just
fortunate to make some key plays,” said Nets head coach Lawrence Frank. “It
was a really good total team win.”

New Jersey built a 51-41 edge at the intermission, but Toronto scored the
first nine points of the third quarter. A three-point play by Ford drew the
Raptors within 51-50 and Carter left the floor for the Nets with four fouls.

The superstar did not return in the period, but the Nets were able to stretch
their lead thanks mostly to Jefferson.

After a Jason Collins putback, Jefferson converted a three-point play and
drilled a three-pointer as New Jersey scored eight straight points to regain
command at 59-50. A Kidd three-pointer a few minutes later made it an 11-point
game and he added another long jumper with 2:22 left in the third to give New
Jersey a 72-58 cushion.

The lead reached 15 late in the third before two Bosh free throws sent the
Raptors into the final period trailing 78-65.

Bosh, in his first playoff appearance, was 7-of-16 from the floor and 8-of-10
from the line.

“They were definitely more posed than we were,” said Bosh. “I don’t think we
played the basketball we normally play. We left a lot of guys open in the
corner and they made us pay for it.”

The Nets opened a 23-22 lead after one quarter. Kidd had eight assists during
the period as New Jersey led by as many as five, at 23-18 after an 11-2 run.
Ford scored 14 for Toronto during the stanza, draining four free throws in the
closing seconds to make it a one-point game.

A dunk by Nachbar and a three-pointer by Carter to start the second quarter
extended the New Jersey lead to six and the cushion reached nine midway
through the period on a three-pointer by Nachbar for a 42-31 advantage.

Toronto got as close as three, at 44-41 on a three by Juan Dixon with just
over three minutes left in the half, but the Nets scored the final seven
points and took a 51-41 lead to the break.

Jefferson scored 17 points in the first half for New Jersey, while Kidd had 11
assists. Bosh played just 10 minutes in the first half because of his foul
trouble.

“He is our best player and he got into foul trouble…that stuff hurts you,”
Mitchell added.

Game Notes

Carter played for the Raptors from 1998 through December 2004 before being
traded to New Jersey…The teams split four meetings during the regular
season, each winning at home…Rasho Nesterovic had 10 rebounds for Toronto,
which fell to 1-3 in its playoff openers.

NJN TOR