AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Jason Kidd didn't even know who bloodied his nose toward the end of a pivotal playoff game that took four hours to play and three overtimes to decide.
Unlike the first four games New Jersey and Detroit played, it wasn't a blowout, the home team didn't win, and one of the stars was a player only die-hard basketball fans even know.
Richard Jefferson scored 18 of his 31 points after regulation, and reserve Brian Scalabrine had a career-high 17 points last night to lead the Nets to a 127-120 victory over the Pistons -- and a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal.
"That was an amazing game. It's just a
shame that someone had to lose," Kidd said. Detroit's Chauncey Billups, who scored 31 points, forced the first overtime when he stepped just over halfcourt and hoisted a shot that went in at the buzzer.
"There were so many overtimes, I don't know which overtime was which," Billups said.
Scalabrine made all four of his 3-pointers, including one that gave New Jersey a 122-118 lead with about 40 seconds left in the third overtime.
In the four previous games, the lumbering forward scored a total of just 6 points.
"It was just great to be a part of an unbelievable game like this," Scalabrine said. "Every time we went to another OT, and it seemed like there were six of them, I thought, `Great! I get to play five more minutes.' "
It was the fourth playoff game to go three or more overtimes, and the first since Phoenix beat Chicago, 129-121, in Game 3 of the 1993 Finals.
Game 6 is tomorrow in New Jersey and, if necessary, Game 7 will be Thursday back in suburban Detroit.
"It's going to make us a lot hungrier," Billups said.
History is on the Nets' side.
Out of 115 best-of-seven series that have been tied at 2, the winner of Game 5 has advanced 96 times (83 percent).
If the two-time defending Eastern Conference champion Nets win one of the next two games, they will join just seven other teams to win a best-of-seven series after trailing, 0-2.
The game was close, unlike the first four.
The Pistons won Games 1 and 2 by a combined 37 points and New Jersey won the next two by a total of 33. For just the third time in a best-of-seven series, the first four games were decided by 15 or more points.
With four players on each team having fouled out, Scalabrine came through for the Nets after not playing in Game 2, and scoring no more than 16 points in a game in his three NBA seasons.
After Jefferson's 3-point play gave New Jersey a 6-point lead in the third overtime, the Pistons pulled within 1 with 1:06 left.
Then Scalabrine made his fourth 3-pointer to give New Jersey the 122-118 lead.
Billups missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game -- again -- with 11 seconds left. Kenyon Martin, who fouled out, had 22 points and nine rebounds. Kidd had 16 points and eight assists and played 57 of 63 minutes. Kerry Kittles scored 20.
"This only counts as one win, but it was a special one," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "Our team won this game with will and heart."