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Billups' 3 from midcourt sends it to extra time

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Jason Kidd didn't even know who
bloodied his nose toward the end of a pivotal playoff game that
took four hours to play and three overtimes to decide.

Unlike the first four games New Jersey and Detroit played, it
wasn't a blowout, the home team didn't win, and one of the stars
was a player only die-hard basketball fans even know.

Richard Jefferson scored 18 of his 31 points after regulation,
and reserve Brian Scalabrine had a career-high 17 points Friday
night to lead the Nets to a 127-120 victory over the Pistons -- and
a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal.

"That was an amazing game. It's just a shame that someone had
to lose," Kidd said.

Detroit's Chauncey Billups, who scored 31 points, forced the
first overtime when he stepped just over halfcourt and hoisted a
shot that went in off the backboard at the buzzer.

"There were so many overtimes, I don't know which overtime was
which," Billups said.

Scalabrine made all four of his 3-pointers, including one that
gave New Jersey a 122-118 lead with about 40 seconds left in the
third overtime.

In the four previous games, the lumbering forward scored a total
of just six points.

"I'm not surprised, basketball players always believe in
themselves," Scalabrine said. "It was just great to be a part of
an unbelievable game like this. Every time we went to another OT,
and it seemed like there were six of them, I thought 'Great! I get
to play five more minutes."

It was the fourth playoff game to go three or more overtimes,
and the first since Phoenix beat Chicago 129-121 in Game 3 of the
1993 Finals.

Game 6 is Sunday in New Jersey and, if necessary, Game 7 will be
Thursday back in suburban Detroit.

"It's going to make us a lot hungrier," Billups said.

History is on the Nets' side.

Out of 115 best-of-seven series that have been tied at 2, the
winner of Game 5 has advanced 96 times (83 percent).

If the two-time defending Eastern Conference champion Nets win
one of the next two games, they will join just seven other teams to
win a best-of-seven series after trailing 0-2.

The game was close, unlike the first four.

The Pistons won Games 1 and 2 by a combined 37 points and New
Jersey won the next two by a total of 33. For just the third time
in a best-of-seven series, the first four games were decided by 15
points or more.

With four players on each team having fouled out, setting an NBA
playoff record, Scalabrine came through for the Nets after not
playing in Game 2, and scoring no more than 16 points in his three
NBA seasons.

After Jefferson's three-point play gave New Jersey a six-point
lead in the third overtime, the Pistons pulled within one with 1:06
left.

Then Scalabrine made his fourth 3-pointer to give New Jersey the
122-118 lead.

"The kid, Scalabrine, made some huge, huge shots," Billups
said.

Billups missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game -- again
-- with 11 seconds left.

Kenyon Martin, who fouled out, had 22 points and nine rebounds.
Kidd had 16 points and eight assists, and played 57 of 63 minutes.
Kerry Kittles scored 20 points, and reserve Lucious Harris added
12.

"This only counts as one win, but it was a special one," Nets
coach Lawrence Frank said. "Our team won this game with will and
heart."

Billups was the only Pistons starter who didn't foul out.

Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince each scored 18 points, while
Ben Wallace had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Richard Hamilton had his
first playoff double-double with 11 points and 11 assists.

"I'm proud just to be a part of a game like that," Pistons
coach Larry Brown said. "I'm disappointed that we lost."

New Jersey was 42-of-55 from the free throw line, while Detroit
was 30-of-42.

Kidd put the Nets ahead 85-84 -- for the first time in almost six
minutes -- with 1:09 left on a coast-to-coast drive after corralling
a loose ball in front of Detroit's bench.

After the Pistons missed their ninth and 10th straight shots,
Kidd's two free throws gave the Nets an 87-84 lead with 16 seconds
left. Billups forced the first overtime with his banked 45-footer.

Frank said he was thinking, "I'm an idiot," when Billups made
the desperation heave.

"I could have fouled, and I could have doubled the ball, and I
didn't do either one," Frank said. "That almost cost us the
game."

Jefferson scored six straight points in the first overtime to
put the Nets ahead 96-92 with 2:21 left. Billups' two free throws
put Detroit ahead with 54 seconds to go.

Jefferson made one of two free throws with 33 seconds left to
tie the game at 99, and it stayed that way after both teams failed
to make a game-winning shot.

Billups' two free throws put the Pistons ahead -- for the first
time in the second overtime -- 111-110. Jefferson's free throw tied
it with 29 seconds left after Scalabrine hustled after a loose
ball, preventing it from going out of bounds, and got it to Kidd.

Game notes
The longest playoff game was Boston's 111-105 win over
Syracuse in four overtimes on March 21, 1953. ... In that game,
seven players fouled out, a record that was surpassed Friday. ...
Former Pistons great and current Knicks president Isiah Thomas sat
courtside.