Jefferson, Nets defeat Raptors, move on to face CavaliersMay 5, 2007 - 5:44 AM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- When the New Jersey Nets wanted to close out the Toronto Raptors, they turned to Richard Jefferson to lead the way.
Jefferson scored 24 points and had the decisive basket and key steal with seconds remaining as the Nets beat the Raptors, 98-97, in Game Six on Friday to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Vince Carter had 21 points and fellow All-Star Jason Kidd added 18, eight rebounds and 15 assists for New Jersey, which pushed its way to the second round of the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.
"Winning this round feels good," Jefferson said. "We've been a confident group throughout. We stuck together, even through a lot of adversity. We got healthy at the end of the season and now we're doing alright."
The Nets will visit the second-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
"We get to move on, that's all that matters," Carter said. "We know we have another challenge ahead. We're just trying to advance, that was our goal."
Trailing 97-96 after Chris Bosh missed an off-balance jumper with 16 seconds left, New Jersey called time out. Kidd took an inbounds pass and threw it to Jefferson, who drove the lane from the right, spun in the paint and layed the ball in with eight seconds left to give the Nets a 98-97 lead.
"Richard did a great job going right to Bosh's body," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "He spun off him and got the lay-in."
"I haven't had the ball in my hands for a game-winning shot in I don't know how long," Jefferson said. "Especially having the play drawn up for me."
Following Toronto's timeout, Jose Calderon attempted to throw a pass to Bosh, but Jefferson made a leaping interception to seal the win for New Jersey.
"I just wanted to get in front of (Bosh) and Jason really pressured (Calderon) and made him rush his pass," Jefferson said. "He couldn't put it in the spot he wanted to. I just jumped and grabbed it."
Bosh, who finished with 23 points and nine assists, had given the Raptors a 97-96 lead with a 13-foot bank shot from the left block with 47 seconds left.
"We executed the play we wanted," said Bosh of the last play of the game. "Jefferson made a super athletic play. If that ball gets over him, we probably win the game."
In a game that had 13 ties and 22 lead changes, the Nets trailed 46-43 at halftime before outscoring the Raptors by 10 points in the third quarter to take a 75-68 lead into the final period.
"In the first half we were just a little slow," Kidd said. "The game wasn't at our speed. After halftime we turned the game around and made it a little more our speed."
The Nets shot 49 percent (32-of-65), including 10-of-19 from 3-point range, while the Raptors also finished at 49 percent (36-of-74).
Frank knows his team is in for a tremendous battle when the Nets face the Cavaliers.
"Cleveland has, if not the, then one of the best players in the league in LeBron (James)," Frank said. "But what quickly gets forgotten is it's a whole lot more than LeBron and that's why they won win 50 games."
T.J. Ford finished with 19 points and rookie Andrea Bargnani added 17 for Toronto, which has only one playoff series victory in its history, a first-round win against the New York Knicks in 2001.
"Yeah we're hurting," Ford said. "We just have to learn how to play better next time."
NEW JERSEY 98 FINAL
May 4 10:42 PM
NEW JERSEY 75 END, 3RD QTR
May 4 9:53 PM
NEW JERSEY 43 HALFTIME
May 4 9:07 PM
NEW JERSEY 21 END, 1ST QTR
May 4 8:33 PM
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