Nets stave off Pacers


INDIANAPOLIS – The New Jersey Nets overcame Anthony Johnson’s 40-point effort to beat the Indiana Pacers 96-90 on Thursday night and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Richard Jefferson scored 30 points and Vince Carter added 24 for the Nets, who won the best-of-seven series 4-2. Jason Kidd approached a triple-double with eight points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds.

Jermaine O’Neal scored 21 points for the Pacers, who played without Peja Stojakovic for the fourth time in the series because of a sore right knee. The team’s second-leading scorer in the regular season, Stojakovic played in Indiana’s only two wins in the series.

The Nets will play the winner of the Chicago-Miami series in the second round.

Every time it looked like New Jersey might pull away, Johnson, a former Net, had an answer. He scored the first 12 points of the fourth quarter for Indiana, then Austin Croshere dunked and O’Neal followed with a basket to cut New Jersey’s lead to 87-85 with 3:25 left.

Heat 113, Bulls 96

CHICAGO – Shaquille O’Neal dominated, Dwyane Wade played well despite a bruised left hip and the Miami Heat never trailed in eliminating the feisty Chicago Bulls 113-96 on Thursday night.

The second-seeded Heat won the best-of-seven series 4-2 and will meet the third-seeded New Jersey Nets in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

O’Neal had 30 points and 20 rebounds while staying out of foul trouble as Miami won its first playoff series against the Bulls and its first postseason game in Chicago.

O’Neal was 13-of-24 from the field.

Wade scored 23 points, and although he spent more time on the bench than usual, he was 7-of-12 from the field, including 2-of-3 on 3-pointers.

Wade injured his hip late in the first half of Game 5 on Tuesday, when he landed awkwardly after having his layup blocked by Michael Sweetney.

He was injected with a painkiller at halftime, returned midway through the third quarter and scored 15 of his game-high 28 points to lead the Heat to a 92-78 victory.

James Posey scored 18 points for the Heat on Thursday, while Udonis Haslem added 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Chicago’s Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon scored 23 and 21 points, respectively, after shooting a combined 6-for-29 in Game 5. Andres Nocioni added 20 points.

After shooting just under 35 percent in Game 5, the Bulls missed 11 of their first 12 shots Thursday and finished 31-of-75 (41 percent). They were 10-for-30 on 3-pointers.

The Heat finished 38-of-77 from the field, including 11-of-25 on 3s.