Raptors season ends in Game 6 loss against Nets
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Richard Jefferson saved the Nets from another trip to Toronto -- and sent them instead to the second round. Jefferson made the go-ahead basket with 8.3 seconds left, stole a pass on the next possession, and New Jersey beat the Raptors 98-97 Friday night to win the first-round series 4-2.
After underachieving for most of the season, the Nets put it together down the stretch and now head to Cleveland for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday.
Jason Kidd finished with 18 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds for the Nets, averaging a triple-double for the series. Jefferson scored 24 points and Vince Carter added 21 despite shooting 6-of-19 from the field.
Chris Bosh had 23 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Atlantic Division champion Raptors. But Jose Calderon's pass to him was intercepted by Jefferson, sending the Raptors to their ninth straight road postseason loss.
After four dismal games in New Jersey this season, Bosh was terrific this time, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter. He banked in a jumper with 47 seconds left, giving the Raptors a 97-96 lead.
But after a timeout, Jefferson drove into the lane and rose over Bosh for his layup. The Raptors then tried to find Bosh cutting to the basket, but Jefferson came away with Calderon's pass and put the Nets back into the conference semifinals. They lost to Miami in that round last year.
Toronto got inspired efforts from banged-up point guards T.J. Ford and Calderon, who combined for 33 points. But the best point guard on the floor, as usual, was Kidd, who averaged 14 points, 13.2 assists and 10 rebounds to became the first player to average a triple-double for a series since he did it against Boston in the 2002 Eastern Conference finals.
Ford and Calderon both were forced to leave Game 5 with injuries. Calderon, usually the backup, started because Ford hadn't practiced since sustaining neck, shoulder and arm injuries in a collision with Carter early in Tuesday's game.
Calderon sprained his ankle in the final seconds of that one, but told coach Sam Mitchell he could play after taking part in the morning shootaround.
Mitchell said before the game that the start was important after the Nets dominated the first quarters in Games 3 and 4, which were never close. This time, Toronto shot 50 percent and limited New Jersey to 37.5 per cent in the first 12 minutes, which ended in a 21-all tie.
Ford entered late in the first quarter and was 6-of-7 for 13 points in the second, helping the Raptors take a 46-43 into halftime.
The Nets trailed 65-64 with under 3 minutes left in the third quarter before Kidd found Jefferson with an alley-oop pass on the break, made a pair of free throws, and set up Jason Collins for a layup and a five-point lead with 1:51 remaining. He assisted on Bostjan Nachbar's 3-pointer with 21 seconds to go in the period as New Jersey brought a 75-68 lead to the fourth.
Notes: NBA commissioner David Stern said before the game that the Nets are doing fine at the Meadowlands but they are still moving to Brooklyn. ... The Raptors finished 0-5 in New Jersey this season. ... Nachbar, who missed a potential winning 3-pointer in Game 5, scored 15 points for the Nets.