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Nets bounce back to even series
BOSTON -- Jason Kidd ran over to the fans sitting across from the New Jersey bench and held up two fingers on each hand.
"Two-two" was what the gesture meant, and 2-2 is where the Eastern Conference finals now stand.
"I was tired of being humble," Kidd explained after the Nets beat the Boston Celtics 94-92 Monday in a game in which they never trailed. "This is now a series. It's a step where we're probably getting tired of each other, and so be it."
There was no hangover from Game 3 for the Nets, but there might be one for Boston's Paul Pierce after what happened at the end of Game 4.
New Jersey gave up a few big leads, but at least the Nets didn't blow the biggest shot of the game. That unkind distinction belonged to Pierce, who missed the first of two foul shots with 1.1 seconds left and the Celtics trailing by two points. Pierce missed the second intentionally, and Tony Battie couldn't convert the putback.
The Nets regained the homecourt advantage by barely coming out ahead in the closest game thus far in this best-of-seven series.
Kidd led the Nets with 19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, nearly getting his third triple-double of the series. But none of Kidd's stats were as important as the three charges he drew in the fourth quarter, frustrating Boston's bids for a comeback each time.
His antics at the end seemed to be in response to a crowd that booed him every time he touched the ball and briefly chanted "wife-beater" -- a reference to his Jan. 2001 arrest for striking his wife. The charges were dropped when Kidd underwent anger counseling and paid a fine.
"You try to win with grace and dignity," said Kidd, who took umbrage with people in Boston making too much of New Jersey's blown 21-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 3.
Kerry Kittles and Keith Van Horn each had their highest-scoring game of the series with 22 and 21 points, respectively, and New Jersey hit 10 3-pointers.
Pierce scored 31 points and Antoine Walker had 30 for Boston.
Game 5 is Wednesday night at New Jersey.
The Sacramento Kings have less than 48 hours to put it behind them -- to make sure that Game 4 of the Western Conference finals was a bump in the road, and not a complete change in course.
"All we need to know is that Game 5 is Tuesday night at Arco Arena, and this series is a long way from being over," Kings guard Doug Christie said. "We shouldn't be thinking about anything else."
It's easier said than done. The Kings spent Monday bolstering their collective mental state, which was sorely tested by Horry's unbelievable buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave Los Angeles a 100-99 victory Sunday in Game 4 and evened the best-of-seven series.
Sacramento led for nearly 47 minutes of the game, from the first three baskets until the moment Horry's shot settled in the net. A victory would have put the two-time defending champions on the ropes, down 3-1 and facing two games at Arco, the NBA's toughest road arena.
-- From wire reports