With 15 stitches above his right eye, Kidd scored 13 of his 24 points in the final eight-plus minutes to lead the New Jersey Nets to an 89-79 victory over the Hornets and a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Kidd was cleared to play Sunday morning by Nets team doctor Michael Kelly and trainer Tim Walsh after the swelling in his eye improved. He opted not to play with a protective mask or goggles after suffering the injury in a head-on collision with Charlotte's David Wesley late in the first half of Game Three on Thursday.
"You've just got to give Timmy a lot of credit for stitching me up and getting the swelling down," Kidd said. "My vision was great. I thought I saw everything as normal."
The runner-up for NBA Most Valuable Player, Kidd added 11 rebounds, eight assists and his usual tough defense on Baron Davis, who scored 20 points but was 5-of-19 from the field, including 1-of-10 from 3-point range.
Kidd made just 6-of-23 shots but took over down the stretch when the Nets needed him most. After missing his first six 3-pointers, Kidd connected from behind the arc to give New Jersey a 71-67 lead with 8:04 left.
He also set up Keith Van Horn with a bullet pass for an uncontested 3-pointer from the top of the key that increased the lead to 76-69 with 6:34 remaining. Van Horn finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Kidd drove past Davis and P.J. Brown for a layup with 6:05 left and hit a pair of free throws with 4:35 remaining, giving the Nets an 82-73 advantage.
"I was just being aggressive and concentrated on going to the basket and putting pressure on their defense," Kidd said. "I got a lot of points at the line."
After Lee Nailon converted a layup and Davis hit 1-of-2 free throws to pull Charlotte within 82-76 with 3:12 left, Kidd converted 6-of-8 free throws in the final 1:47 to seal the win.
"Jason was great tonight, he was typical Jason," said Nets forward Kenyon Martin. "He showed what he was made of, although we already knew what he was made of."
The Nets never have advanced to an NBA conference finals but can clinch the series Wednesday in Game Five at New Jersey.
It may have been the final game at Charlotte Coliseum. On Friday, the NBA approved the Hornets' move to New Orleans beginning next season. Sunday's game drew 13,864, the team's largest crowd of the postseason.
"I told the team we'd faced adversity all year and this is just another step," Hornets coach Paul Silas said. "It will be tough but not impossible to win in New Jersey. They know if we come back here, they'll be in a dogfight."
Both teams shot poorly from the field and the free throw line, but the Nets outrebounded the taller Hornets, 51-40, including 20-7 off the offensive boards. That was a stunning development since Charlotte held a 45-36 rebounding advantage in its 115-97 victory in Game Three.
"I was most concerned with New Jersey's 20 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points," Silas said. "They manhandled us. P.J. (Brown) rose to the occasion, but nobody else did. The hustle parts hurt us tonight. We had chances to run out if we got defensive rebounds. That's all New Jersey was doing. They weren't making shots either. They got rebounds, ran out and got two or three layups."
P.J. Brown led Charlotte with 16 rebounds and no other Hornet had more than six.
Hornets center Elden Campbell, who was listed as questionable with flu-like symptoms, played 35 minutes but had just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting and six rebounds.
"The rebounding really stands out," Brown said. "The hustles, the loose balls that New Jersey got. Every second-chance point and loose ball was theirs. It's about passion and will."
Nets coach Byron Scott acknowledged that the Nets played with more intensity than they did on Thursday.
"Our guys had a look in practice yesterday that told me we were going to compete better and play with more energy," Scott said. "And it's no mystery that this team follows Jason's lead and he provided the inspiration."
Kerry Kittles scored a playoff career-high 20 points for the Nets, including 11 in the third quarter.
A 3-pointer by Kittles snapped a 51-51 tie with 7:25 left in the third quarter. The Nets took their biggest lead of the quarter at 64-60 when Kittles converted a pair of free throws with 1:22 remaining.
But George Lynch, who finished with 19 points, hit a short jumper and Davis had a driving layup in the final minute to tie the game heading into the fourth quarter.
"Kerry gave us a huge lift there for us in the third quarter," Kidd said. "We needed someone to give us a lift after we scored just 39 points in the first half and he gave us some offense."
Nailon scored the first basket of the fourth quarter, but the Hornets went nearly 7 1/2 minutes without a field goal, converting 7-of-13 free throws.
Meanwhile, the Nets went on an 18-7 run capped by Kidd's free throws with 4:35 left.
Anthony Johnson, Kidd's backup at point guard, hit a 15-footer from the right side to give the Nets the lead for good at 68-67 with 8:46 left before Kidd connected on his only 3-pointer of the game.
"We just didn't execute down the stretch," Davis said. "We had turnovers. We didn't rebound. We have to focus. I'm confident we can still win this series. It's just a matter of execution."
Charlotte started the second quarter with a 16-7 run and held a 44-39 lead at halftime.