EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., May 5 (Ticker) -- Kenyon Martin
are helping the New Jersey Nets overcome their
reputation for missing clutch free throws.
NBA TV highlights from|
Martin scored 21 points, including four from the line in the
final minute, as the Nets held on for a 97-93 victory over the
Boston Celtics in Game One of their Eastern Conference semifinal
New Jersey has lost numerous games this season due to poor
free-throw shooting in the final minutes, including Game Four of
their first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. But free
throws made the difference in this one as the Nets were
14-of-16 from the line in the fourth quarter.
"We learn from our mistakes," Martin said. "In the Milwaukee
game, we missed a lot of free throws and that cost us the game,
so we don't want to put ourselves in that position again. Guys
realized it was time to step up and knock down free throws, and
"It's always important to make your free throws, especially in a
series like this and especially in the fourth quarter," Nets
coach Byron Scott added. "We had one bad stretch in Milwaukee,
but I really don't worry about our guys on the free-throw line
when the game is on the line."
New Jersey took the lead for good at 87-85 on a pair of free
throws by Jason Collins
with 3:16 remaining. Kidd followed with
a layup 30 seconds later, but Boston's Paul Pierce
- who scored
34 points - responded with a 3-pointer.
The Nets had a 91-90 lead when Martin was fouled trying to dunk
with 45 seconds left. Celtics forward Antoine Walker
struggled to guard Martin throughout, fouled out on the play and
Martin made 1-of-2 free throws.
Boston's Tony Battie
fouled out at the other end when he was
called for a loose ball foul that sent Martin to the line with
24 seconds to go. Martin sank both free throws for a 94-90
Rookie J.R. Bremer
buried a 3-pointer for the Celtics with 15
seconds left, but Kidd sank two from the line at the other end
for a 96-93 lead. Boston had a chance to tie, but Pierce missed
an open 3-pointer before Martin capped the scoring by splitting
two free throws.
"It felt great," Pierce said of the potential tying shot. "I
thought I had a great look and it felt good coming out of my
hands. What more could I ask for? We were down three and I had
a good look, especially at the end of the game."
After shooting 50 percent (26-of-53) in the first three
quarters, the Celitcs made just 7-of-22 shots, including 3-of-12
3-pointers, in the final 12 minutes.
"This is a tough loss for us in a hard-fought game," Boston
coach Jim O'Brien said. "I felt that we were in position to win
the basketball game and we just didn't get it done down the
scored 17 points and Kidd finished with 15, nine
assists and six rebounds for New Jersey, which ended up 23-of-28
at the line.
had 13 points and nine rebounds and Aaron
added 12 and a playoff career-high nine as the Nets
held a 44-30 rebounding advantage.
New Jersey scored 23 fast-break points but shot just 42 percent
(34-of-81), committed 18 turnovers and went nearly seven minutes
without a basket in the second half.
"We made some bad decisions and we took a lot of bad shots,"
Scott said. "This is one of those games earlier in the season
we probably would have lost, but I think winning some of the
close games in the last series got us ready for this series."
Pierce made 9-of-17 shots, 15-of-20 free throws and dished out
eight assists but committed eight of Boston's 15 turnovers.
"I don't think you can turn the ball over 15 times against the
Nets. It gives them too many chances in transition," O'Brien
said. "We have to hold them to less than 23 points on the break
in order to win."
scored 15 points and Walker and Walter McCarty
added 14 apiece for the Celtics.
Game Two is Wednesday in New Jersey.
Boston made its first four shots, highlighted by a pair of
3-pointers from McCarty, and jumped out to its largest lead at
The Celtics had a 45-40 cushion with 2:38 left in the second
quarter, but New Jersey closed the period with a 9-1 run and
took a 49-46 halftime advantage on former Celtic Rodney Rogers'
3-pointer with 62 seconds left.
Kittles buried three 3-pointers in the opening three minutes of
the second half to extend the Nets' lead to 62-52. New Jersey
had its largest advantage at 68-57 after Kidd made three free
throws with 7:24 remaining.
The Celtics trailed by 10 with 6:44 to go in the third quarter
but carried a 16-2 run into the final period during the Nets'
"That third quarter, I thought we got off to a great start, but
then all of a sudden, we went haywire a little bit," Scott said.
"(The Celtics) were never out of this game. Never fall asleep
when you are playing against these guys."
Battie capped the burst with a layup to give Boston a 76-72
Rogers made two free throws at the 10:04 mark and New Jersey did
not trail after Aaron Williams' dunk forged a 76-76 tie 35