PLAYOFFS, MIA wins series 4-1
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49-33, 20-21 Away
52-30, 31-10 Home

Carter scores 27, Kidd adds 22 for Nets in win over Heat

MIAMI (AP) -- Sitting on his lap after the game, Vince Carter's daughter crumpled a stat sheet in her tiny hands.

Maybe she should have kept the paper as a souvenir: It told the story of New Jersey's biggest win this season.

Carter scored 27 points, Jason Kidd added 22 and Richard Jefferson had 20 before leaving the game with an ankle injury as the Nets saw most of a 28-point third-quarter lead vanish -- yet hung on to beat Miami 100-88 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night.

"We were just focused from the beginning," Carter said. "We wanted to come out and be aggressive and let everybody know that we can compete -- and that we're a pretty good team ourselves."

Dwyane Wade scored 25 points for Miami, which got 20 points and 10 rebounds for Shaquille O'Neal -- who was not effective until late, sitting most of the first half with foul trouble. Jason Williams added 12 points for the Heat, who were doomed by 17 turnovers that led to 24 New Jersey points.

"We didn't give ourselves a chance," Wade said.

Game 2 is Wednesday in Miami.

Clifford Robinson's 3-pointer with 9:53 left gave New Jersey an 89-65 lead, and many fans who booed the Heat on at least three occasions continued a steady stream up the stairs and into the Miami night.

They missed a valiant comeback, albeit one that ended in vain.

Miami rallied with an 18-3 run over the next 5½ minutes. O'Neal had 11 points in the burst, including a putback to close the run with 4:21 left that drew Miami within 92-83.

But Carter answered with five straight New Jersey points, and Kidd delivered a backbreaking jumper with 1:56 left to restore a 13-point lead.

"We were lucky, obviously, to build that lead, because obviously, Miami made one heck of a run which you have to give them a lot of credit for," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said.

Frank was hardly celebratory after the game, his mind perhaps not on what his team had just won -- but instead on who they may have lost.

Jefferson left in a walking boot after injuring his right ankle in the third quarter. X-rays were negative, but Frank was concerned -- especially since Miami made its big run after Jefferson departed.

For his part, Jefferson sounded somewhat optimistic about his availability for Game 2.

"In my mind, I'm going to start every game," Jefferson said. "I believe I can play. If there's any way for me to play, I will play. I'm very confident that I will play, but right now, we'll just see how I am at about 6:30 on Wednesday."

Jefferson was 4-for-4 for 11 points in the first 3:55, staking New Jersey to an 18-5 lead. With the Heat devoting much defensive attention to Carter, who torched them for an average of 38.5 points in the regular season, Jefferson and Kidd sensed that they could take advantage.

They were right. Jefferson started fast and Kidd was even hotter, making his first six shots -- after shooting only 29 percent in the Nets' first-round series with Indiana.

"That wasn't the way we wanted to start," Heat coach Pat Riley said.

The tone for this one was set early. O'Neal won the opening tip-off, and Williams made an open layup 10 seconds later to give the Heat the lead.

Until the fourth, that was about the only moment where the home crowd could cheer.

New Jersey used a 12-0 first-quarter burst to build its cushion, then a 13-0 run in the third quarter to take firm control -- and take away home-court advantage from the Heat, who swept the Nets in the last season's opening playoff round but have now lost the teams' last four meetings by an average of 11 points.

"In this game, we felt if we could get off to a good start, maybe we'd have a chance," Kidd said.

Nenad Krstic added 11 points for New Jersey, which got nine rebounds and seven assists from Kidd. Udonis Haslem had 10 points for Miami.

Here's how bad things went early for the Heat: They missed only two shots in the game's first 7½ minutes, and were still down 26-13. Miami had nine turnovers in the early going, which New Jersey happily turned into 14 points that helped it seize quick control -- to the delight of Nets minority owner Jay-Z, watching from courtside with girlfriend Beyonce.

O'Neal was benched by foul trouble 4:57 into the game, following a no-point, two-charge, three-turnover effort. Without him, the Heat turned almost exclusively to Wade for points and he delivered, getting 20 by halftime -- but it simply didn't matter, since the Nets were leading 64-46 at intermission.

"We just were not ready in the beginning of the game to play at their level," Riley said.

Miami showed some signs of life in the third quarter, getting within 15 with 9 minutes left in the period when Haslem hit a 16-footer. But O'Neal picked up his fourth foul on a drive by Carter 25 seconds later, went out of the game again, and Miami just deflated.

Carter and Kidd combined for eight points in the 13-0 run over the next 4½ minutes, as the Nets' lead ballooned to 82-54 with 4:12 remaining in the period.

And that deficit simply was too much to recover from.

"I've been playing 10 years, man," Heat forward Antoine Walker said. "If you don't believe we're going to make an adjustment, then you don't know basketball."

Game notes
O'Neal had been 8-0 against New Jersey in playoff games, sweeping the Nets in the 2002 Finals (with the Los Angeles Lakers) and then again with Miami in last season's first round. ... Miami fell to 15-4 in its last 19 playoff home games. ... Carter was 15-for-19 from the foul line.


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