Kidd, Nets down Cavaliers in Game 3
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) – Jason Kidd recorded his 11th career
playoff triple-double, and the New Jersey Nets avoided a huge three-game hole
in their Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 96-85 victory over the
Kidd finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists for the Nets, who
dominated from the opening tip off and pulled within 2-1 in the best-of-seven
set. Kidd passed Larry Bird for second on the NBA’s all-time list for most
triple-doubles in the playoffs. Magic Johnson holds the top spot with 30.
Vince Carter, who suffered a sprained finger on his left hand in the third
quarter but returned in the fourth, finished with 23 points, six rebounds
and four assists. Richard Jefferson was a force inside with 23 points and
eight rebounds for New Jersey, which dominated on the boards, 43-30, and shot
47 percent in the contest.
“We needed to execute,” said Carter. “Defend and rebound, you know, box out
and everything else will take care of itself. I think we held (Cleveland) to a
percentage we were happy with, but the second chance points and the offensive
rebounds were the ones that really hurt us.”
“The crowd was phenomenal for us tonight,” Carter added. “I think we really
fed off that.”
Larry Hughes led the way with 23 points for Cleveland, which saw its
franchise-record six-game playoff winning streak come to an end. LeBron James
was held under the 20-point plateau, finishing the night with 18 points and 12
“Kidd is a special player,” said James. “When you play on the same floor as a
guy that will definitely go out in history as one of the greats, you have to
appreciate it. He’s special and we should all appreciate it. Anytime you get
an opportunity to see a guy the caliber of a player of Jason Kidd, where he
showcases his talent like he did tonight, it’s special.”
The loss also snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Cavs that dated to the
end of the regular season.
Game 4 of this best-of-seven series is scheduled for Monday at Continental
Ahead by two at the half, New Jersey’s lead swelled to 10 on Mikki Moore’s
reverse layup just minutes into the third. Hughes hit back-to-back jumpers to
stop the bleeding for Cleveland. A pair of Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ free throws cut
it to 58-51 at 7:22, but a 12-4 run by the Nets boosted their lead to 70-55.
The Cavs got within 74-63 at the end of the third.
New Jersey stumbled to open the fourth, and the Cavs started to pour it on.
Anderson Varejao hit a pair of free throws and a layup to cut it to
77-70, and James got back into the act with a three-point shot to trim the
margin to four before the Nets responded.
A wide-open lane for Moore resulted in a one-handed slam, Carter knocked down
a baseline jumper, and a Kidd-to-Carter connection resulted in the easy dunk
to make it 83-73 with 5:30 remaining in the game. Jefferson’s driving layup
extended the run for a 12-point cushion.
The Cavs never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
“I think there was five minutes or six minutes left and this is where we’ve
been in the two games previous,” said Kidd. “There wasn’t time to duck and
hide. For us (the job) was to be aggressive and make some plays. I thought my
teammates did a great job of not settling. We kept forcing the tempo and also
being aggressive by trying to get in the paint.”
Moore finished with 11 points for the Nets. Drew Gooden had 12 points,
Ilgauskas had 11 and Varejao finished with eight for Cleveland, which shot 41
percent in the contest.
Already up 9-4, Moore’s sensational driving dunk gave the Nets an early seven-
point cushion. Kidd followed with a three-point shot off a Hughes’ miss at the
other end, and Carter’s free throw put the exclamation point on a 13-2 run and
11-point New Jersey lead.
Cleveland came back with a brief 5-0 spurt to pull within six, but the Nets
continued to move the ball and run the court, something they failed to do in
the first two games. The Cavs scored the final four of the first, but James
failed to get off a one-handed layup at the buzzer and the squad trailed
Antoine Wright drilled a three for a 31-19 New Jersey edge in the second, and
Carter followed by making one-of-two from the line. Ilgauskas then made both
of his shots from the charity stripe, igniting an 18-5 run by Cleveland.
Hughes’ jumper gave the Cavs their first lead of the afternoon, 38-37, with
3:01 left in the half and James made of pair of free throws to cap the rally.
Kidd’s trey quickly tied the game and started an 8-3 sprint, and New Jersey
held a 45-43 lead at intermission.
“Three of their guys played well,” said Hughes. “We can’t afford to give Kidd
a triple-double. It’s gonna make it tough for us to win. They brought energy.
They brought effort. They were coming home so we expected all of that. We
didn’t play particularly well for 48 minutes, but we still gave ourselves a
chance to win. We understand what we did wrong and we’re ready to play again.
Cavaliers forward Donyell Marshall suffered a left ankle sprain in the fourth
quarter. X-rays were negative and Marshall is listed as day-to-day…James
had the lowest-scoring game of his 20-game postseason career. He was just 5-
of-16 from the field…James’ streak of 20-point games to start a playoff
career is second-longest in history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 27
straight…The Nets have never come back to win a playoff series
after losing the first two games of the set…Cleveland has never dropped a
series in the postseason after winning the first two games of the set…NBA
teams that lose the first three games are a combined 0-for-81…Kidd had five
three-pointers in the contest, one shy of a franchise playoff record.