Nets 94, Pistons 79
One game after facing questions about his ability to control a game in these playoffs, New Jersey guard Jason Kidd notched his seventh career playoff triple-double and led the Nets to a 94-79 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The win knotted the series at 2 games apiece. Game 5 is Friday in Detroit.
After Kidd's struggles in Game 3 -- he missed 12 of 14 shots to leave him at 22.5 percent shooting through the first three games of the series -- Nets Coach Lawrence Frank went to great lengths to defend his floor leader. Tuesday, before 19,860 at Continental Airlines Arena, Kidd's play spoke volumes. He scored 22 points to go with 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
"Jason Kidd was obviously off the charts," Frank said. "We never base Jason's game on scoring. There are nights where he is not going to make shots, but he does so many other things. He's always rebounded, he's always distributed the ball, he's always handled the ball against pressure, he always leads and he always defends. So if he makes or misses shots, well, we'll live with it. The fact that he made them, hey, we'll live with that too."
Kidd hit his first shot of the game, but had only five points at the half. In Kidd's stead, guards Lucious Harris and Kerry Kittles each took turns sparking the Nets, finishing with 11 and 14 points, respectively.
Harris was the catalyst for a 7-0 run early in the second quarter that gave the Nets a 33-22 lead with 7 minutes 27 seconds remaining.
Detroit was able to shave four points off the Nets' lead but still went into halftime trailing, 47-40.
Kidd and Kittles broke open the game in the third quarter, with Kittles making three consecutive jump shots to open the period, and Kidd scored nine straight points during a two-minute run, as the Nets stretched their lead to 64-49 with 5:50 left.
The Nets led by 21 at the end of the third quarter, led by 23 in the fourth quarter and cruised to their second lopsided victory in as many games.
"When [Kidd] is shooting like he did tonight, we're tough to beat," Nets forward Kenyon Martin said. "When he gets his shots, and other guys are playing well, we're tough to beat. That's what happened tonight."
Richard Hamilton (30 points) was the lone bright spot for the Pistons. No one else on Detroit reached double figures.
The Pistons should be eager to return home to the Palace at Auburn Hills, where they are shooting at a much higher percentage. In its two wins at home, Detroit shot 47.6 and 43.8 percent, but in the two games in New Jersey, the Pistons failed to shoot better than 35 percent and set a franchise record for least points in a playoff game on Sunday, when they managed only 64 points.
"I don't look at it as over. I'm realistic, though," Detroit Coach Larry Brown said. "We didn't compete at the level you need to compete at these two games. That's the only thing that is discouraging to me."
Martin finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Nets, and Richard Jefferson, the hero in Game 3, had 19 points before leaving with 2:10 remaining with the rest of the Nets' starters.
"Both teams have gotten the job done at home, and we'll see if that remains true," Frank said. "We continue to get better, but we're going to have to get it done on the road."
Rasheed Wallace, who has been bothered by plantar fascia in his left foot, came up limping and grimacing after scoring his first basket with 5:20 left in the half. But he played through the pain, helping the Pistons stay within seven at halftime.
Also, Chauncey Billups strained his back in the first quarter and had his second straight poor game.
"If Chauncey was healthy and Rasheed was healthy it wouldn't have mattered tonight," Brown said. "They were great."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.