NEW JERSEY 113, MILWAUKEE 101 -----------------------------
MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Kenyon Martin redeemed himself for the New Jersey Nets and helped set up an Eastern Conference playoff rematch.
Martin scored 29 points and Jason Kidd recorded his sixth career playoff triple-double as the Nets cruised to a 113-101 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks to finish their Eastern Conference first-round series in six games.
New Jersey has won playoff series in consecutive postseasons for the first time in the franchise's NBA history. The Nets advanced to meet the Boston Celtics, whom they ousted in six games in last year's conference finals.
Martin came off a foul-plagued nine-point outing in New Jersey's Game Five triumph and surpassed that in the first quarter with 12 points as the Nets grabbed a 30-18 advantage. He scored 10 points as New Jersey never trailed in opening the game on a 17-6 tear.
"This was a great win," Martin said. "We came out aggressive and we were able to stay that way throughout the game. I've been working on my game, watching lots of tape, trying to stay confident and get better."
Kidd finished with 22 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds for his fifth playoff triple-double with New Jersey. Kidd had three triple-doubles in the six-game series with Boston last season.
"It won't be easy," Kidd said. "They're (the Celtics) another talented team that can put a lot of points on the board. It should be a great series."
The Nets led by as many as 22 points before the Bucks finally put together a spurt in the fourth quarter to get close. A layup by Gary Payton pulled Milwaukee within 99-90 with 5:34 left to cap a 16-4 run.
New Jersey's next possession illustrated one of the big differences in the series. Lucious Harris, Martin and Aaron Williams all missed shots, but the Nets came up with offensive rebounds each time and Kerry Kittles finally drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key for a 12-point lead with 4:46 to go.
"That was a dagger, it gave us a lift," Harris said. "We didn't want to go back for a Game Seven and give them a chance."
The Nets held a commanding 20-8 edge on the offensive glass, an advantage they enjoyed throughout the series. New Jersey pushed Milwaukee around for a 46-29 rebounding advantage overall.
Richard Jefferson scored 16 points as New Jersey placed five players in double figures. Kittles and Aaron Williams each finished with 12 points.
Moving into the second round was no small accomplishment for a franchise still not held in high regard in NBA circles. The Nets stormed to a tie for the best record in the East at the All-Star break and went just 15-18 after it, fueling speculation that this would be Kidd's final year with the team.
Kidd, who had won only one playoff series before coming to New Jersey, has a pair of major weapons in Martin and Jefferson. Martin made 12-of-21 shots and Jefferson was on the receiving end of numerous feeds from Kidd and made 8-of-11 from the floor.
"RJ and K-Mart have really come of age," Kidd said. "They can't just play OK. We have to have them play great to win."
Kidd provided the Nets with a serious boost of momentum as he scored four points in a four-second span to close the first half for a 56-44 cushion at intermission. After nailing a jumper, he stole Toni Kukoc's inbounds, and used a nifty hesitation dribble for a layup at the buzzer.
"I thought that was a big momentum change," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "Jason hits a jumper and then steals the ball and had enough awareness to know he could get to the basket and with the way Kukoc was closing him out."
New Jersey also got a strong effort from starting center Jason Collins, who finished with six points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Williams backed him up with 5-of-7 shooting and four boards.
"They got some consistent play from Aaron Williams, I don't think they even expected it," Milwaukee coach George Karl said. "He is just a veteran guy who is very comfortable with whatever Byron throws them."
The contest featured chippy behavior from both sides, including plenty from Milwaukee as it displayed frustration. Ervin Johnson was whistled for a technical foul for the second straight game after shoving Collins in the second quarter.
Moments later, Jefferson committed an offensive foul when he pushed Desmond Mason to the floor while running upcourt. The two followed by exchanging words and the conversation continued for several possessions.
Bucks guard Sam Cassell, a former Net, was hit for a technical by referee Derrick Stafford after voicing a mild complaint on a foul call in the third quarter.
"We gave a good effort and came up short, but that is how it goes sometime," Cassell said. "We had opportunities to win the series, but it is irrelevant now."
Payton scored 24 points in what could possibly be his final game in Milwaukee since he is a free agent. Payton has exited the playoffs in the first round three straight times since helping Seattle reach the conference semifinals in 1998.
"For me to be in the league 13 years, winning a title is going to be a big part of the decision," Payton said. "I'm going to take a month or two to decide what to do and where I best fit in and this series won't be a factor in the decision."
Michael Redd scored 20 points and Kukoc added 16 as Milwaukee got a strong effort from its bench. Cassell, who played a huge role in both victories, took just four shots and scored five points.
The win marked the third time that the Nets have clinched a playoff series on the road - they won Game Six at Boston last season and won at Philadelphia in the fifth game of a first-round series in 1984.