Final

Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 12/31

Game 1: Wednesday, December 31st
Warriors70Final
Nets88
Game 2: Friday, March 5th
Nets78Final
Warriors74

Nets 78

(38-23, 17-14 away)

Warriors 74

(25-35, 18-12 home)

    7:30 PM ET, March 5, 2004

    ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    NJ 13 17 28 2078
    GS 18 21 19 1674

    Top Performers

    New Jersey: R. Jefferson 23 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast

    Golden State: J. Richardson 22 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Warriors lose fourth straight

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The difference was experience: The New Jersey Nets have it, and the Golden State Warriors are getting it the hard way.

    Richard Jefferson scored 23 points and the Nets made a late rally for their second victory in three games without Jason Kidd, beating the slumping Warriors 78-74 Friday night.

    The Nets trailed the entire game until Lucious Harris' jumper gave them a 75-74 lead with 1:58 left. On nearly every possession of the final four minutes, something occurred to highlight the playoff-tested Nets' cohesion -- or to point out the young Warriors' growing pains.

    While New Jersey rallied to win in those final four minutes, Golden State was held scoreless. Jefferson, who made an acrobatic layup with 1:22 left, could see the difference between the teams.

    "Our experience," he said. "Every guy that was out on that floor has played in the NBA Finals the last two years. When it comes down to it, you know to pick it up. You know how to play. You know that you've got to talk on every single situation.

    "We've got experience together. I think that's where our teamwork really showed in the last two minutes."

    Jason Richardson scored 22 points for the Warriors, who lost their fourth straight. Mike Dunleavy had 20, but his team blew another home game with a pathetic fourth-quarter effort on offense. A few weeks ago, Golden State scored just two points in the fourth quarter of a home loss to Toronto.

    "We forced a couple of turnovers and got them out of their rhythm a little bit at the end," said Kerry Kittles, who scored 17 points. "We're not one of those teams that'll come out and outscore you. We like to grind it out with D. That's what we were doing."

    The Nets were whistled for a shot-clock violation with 5.9 seconds left, but Richardson accidentally kicked the ball out of bounds on the inbounds play. Kittles hit one free throw to clinch it.

    "When you're playing one of the best teams in the league, you're not going to get some calls," Richardson said of the final play. But in that situation, I still need to get a shot up. When the game is on the line, you have to find a way."

    Both teams were missing key injured players in a physical, low-scoring game.

    Golden State struggled without point guards Speedy Claxton and Nick Van Exel, while Kidd sat out his third straight game with a bruised left knee.

    The Warriors have been beset by injuries all season, but Claxton's absence has cost them any cohesion on offense. The 6-foot-9 Dunleavy started at point guard, and rookie Mickael Pietrus went scoreless his first NBA start at small forward.

    "You can see what happens when New Jersey is without Jason Kidd," Warriors coach Eric Musselman said. "They become discombobulated quickly without him on the court. But without our two point guards and (forward Troy) Murphy, you really can't fault our kids. They continue to play hard."

    Kidd had hoped to return in front of his hometown Oakland fans, but decided to rest until Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets are 2-1 without him on their four-game road trip.

    After having lunch with his mother and sister, Kidd went through an energetic workout before the game. On the sideline, he jumped up and cheered with his teammates -- even signaling for a first down after one Golden State turnover.

    "I think it's going in the right direction," Kidd said. "I'm hopeful for (Sunday). ... Those guys cheer for me when I'm out there. That's what makes this team so special."

    All-Star Kenyon Martin had just nine points, and nobody else scored more than eight.

    "Defense is our offense, without a doubt," said New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank, who improved to 16-3. "We are not the greatest shooting team, but the key is that you have to know who you are."

    Game notes


    Nets G Brandon Armstrong, an East Bay native, got some rare playing time. He scored four points in 12 minutes and was on the floor in the final seconds. ... Richardson made a spectacular layup late in the first quarter. His hand was pulled off the ball by a New Jersey foul in mid-air, but he regained possession and made a no-look shot behind his head. ... 49ers defensive end Andre Carter attended the game.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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