The New Jersey Nets have another huge playoff lead, and it’ll be very tough to blow this one.
In a Game 3 quite different from the last Game 3 between the teams, the Nets defeated the Boston Celtics, 94-76, Friday night to go up, 3-0, in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
In the third game of last season’s conference finals, the Celtics erased a 21-point deficit -- the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in NBA playoff history -- to beat the Nets.
“We came up here and let that one get away,” said Kenyon Martin, who led the Nets with 25 points. “We didn’t want to let that happen again.”
Game 4 is Monday night in Boston.
“We’re going to lay down or we’re going to do something about it,” said Paul Pierce, who led Boston with 23 points. “Knowing myself, my teammates, we’re not a group that’s going to lay down.”
Richard Jefferson and Martin combined for 16-of-21 shooting as the Celtics gave the forwards room outside and concentrated on stopping the inside game. Martin also played outstanding defense against Antoine Walker.
“We got pounded,” Boston Coach Jim O’Brien said. “It’s hard to beat them if they’re going to make that many jump shots.”
Walker continued to struggle. He made only six of 17 shots after going nine for 35 in the first two games. He finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
“They took it to us,” Walker said. “All night we let them be the aggressors. That’s when New Jersey’s the best. If we want to keep this series alive and win Monday, we’ve got to be the aggressor.”
It was a relatively quiet game for Jason Kidd, who had nine points, nine rebounds and 11 assists. And the Boston fans who have been so hard on him in the past were relatively tame.
Kidd ignored the crowd, even when it chanted “wife beater” when he went to the free-throw line with 1:42 left in the third quarter -- a reference to his January 2001 arrest for striking his wife. The charges were dropped when Kidd underwent anger counseling and paid a fine.
The Nets took their biggest lead of the first half, 34-21, on a three-point basket by Rodney Rogers, who played for Boston last year.