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Hayes' clutch three lifts Nets over Bucks

Mar 4, 2009 - 6:45 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Clutch shooting was at a surplus Tuesday night at the Bradley Center. Ultimately, Jarvis Hayes and the New Jersey Nets escaped with a slight edge.

After Ramon Sessions and Charlie Villanueva buried back-to-back jumpers to tie things up in the final minute, Hayes buried a 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining to propel the Nets to a 99-95 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Villanueva's bucket made it a 90-90 ballgame and forced a timeout by the Nets, who had already erased an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit thanks to hot perimeter shooting down the stretch. Vince Carter took control of the offense on the ensuing possession, drawing three defenders inside and kicking out to the corner to find Hayes, who drained it from just behind the arc.

"He could see it before it happens," Hayes said of Carter's pass. "In the huddle, he knew the corner ball was going to be open; he kind of threw it blind."

From there, it was a free-throw contest - but neither team blinked from the line until Villanueva's intentional miss with 2.6 ticks remaining. The rebound, however, was secured by Nets rookie Brook Lopez, who put the finishing touches on a big performance with two free throws that sealed the game.

"It's big for a lot of reasons - just the time of the season when we need wins, when we could have easily folded," Carter said. "I'm glad to see guys come together and play well."

Lopez had to take the lead on offense, as New Jersey stars Devin Harris and Vince Carter struggled with their shot for most of the night. The 7-foot center led the team with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Thanks in large part to Villanueva's 24-point, 15-rebound effort, the Bucks led by as many as 10 in the third quarter before letting the Nets back in. New Jersey bridged the final two periods with a 12-3 spurt, capped by Harris' layup that put his team on top, 71-70.

"It was tough. They hit some big threes but we didn't really execute the way we needed to at the end of the game and they did," Bucks guard Luke Ridnour said. "That is when games are won, in the last five minutes. You have to give them credit. We just didn't get it done."

Harris was just 3-of-14 from the field on the night and Carter wasn't much better - a mere 5-of-20 - but the Nets got just enough from their go-to guys to survive.

"That's Vince, he's phenomenal," Dooling said. "On a night he doesn't shoot well, he still makes the big play."

Of course, the Nets' role players came up big, too. With Milwaukee holding an 84-76 edge midway through the fourth quarter, the Nets' shooters suddenly caught fire to turn the momentum in their favor.

Carter and Hayes connected from long range on back-to-back possession and Harris found some rare space inside for a driving layup moments later to cut the Bucks' lead to two.

Dooling knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to put New Jersey on top, 90-86, having turned an eight-point deficit into a four-point advantage in just over two minutes' time.

"It might have been our best win of the year, considering what it meant and how we did it," Dooling said.

Like Harris and Carter, Milwaukee's own star had his shooting troubles. Richard Jefferson, facing the team with which he spent the first seven years of his career, went just 4-of-18 from the field but made up for it with a 12-of-12 showing at the line.

"If you say going into the game that (Harris and Carter) would shoot 8-of-34, you'd think we would probably have a good chance of winning the game," Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. "It was just when the game was on the line we had some difficulty."

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