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Harris leads N.J. down the stretch

3/23/2004

CHICAGO (AP) -- Lucious Harris showed he can handle the point,
hit the boards and make big shots. Still, no one realizes more than
Harris how much the New Jersey Nets miss Jason Kidd.

"Jason is a big part of this team. We're just trying to hold it
down until he gets back," Harris said Tuesday night after leading
the Nets over the Chicago Bulls 84-81.

The Nets broke a three-game losing streak and are now 1-2
without injured stars Kidd and Kenyon Martin, both of whom have
knee injuries.

"Winning without them, that is going to help us out mentally.
Just to get a win and get over the hump," said Harris, who scored
19 points, made three key fourth-quarter baskets and grabbed a
season-high 10 rebounds.

"A lot of the shots were open and I just took them. Fortunately
they were going in," Harris added.

Richard Jefferson led the Nets with 20 points and also had 10
rebounds as the New Jersey had a decisive 45-34 edge on the boards.

Jamal Crawford scored 34 points to lead Chicago, hitting a
career-high six 3-pointers, but he missed one at the buzzer that
would have tied the game.

The Bulls also had seven fourth-quarter turnovers.

"The situation at the end is the situation you dream about, you
want to help your team tie, go to overtime and get the win,"
Crawford said.

"I got a good look and I missed the shot."

Harris' 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired put the
Nets ahead 77-75 with four minutes left, and then he hit two more
jumpers to keep New Jersey in front.

Crawford's basket cut the lead to two, and after a Nets' miss
the Bulls had a chance to tie. But the Nets forced a jump ball and
Jefferson controlled the tip, and Kerry Kittles hit the second of
two free throws with 7.2 seconds left to make it 84-81.

"At the end of the game it's about getting defensive stops and
making that play," Jefferson said of the jump ball. "Those are
things I learned from watching Jason Kidd. We've been in the
Finals. We've been in and out of the playoffs. We understand the
things it's going to take at the end of the game."

After a timeout, Crawford took an inbounds pass before his long
jumper from the corner went off the rim.

Crawford scored 12 points in the final five minutes of the
second quarter, including a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left, as the
Bulls took a 40-38 halftime lead.

Game notes
Nets GM Rod Thorn said the team is taking a wait-and- see
approach to Kidd's knee injury. Kidd missed his third straight game
Tuesday night with a bone bruise on his left knee. He's also
bothered by swelling and fluid on the knee, Thorn said. "We'll see
how he responds to treatment. We'll see what transpires." Kidd
said if he needs knee surgery, he'll wait until after the playoffs.
Martin has tendinitis of his left knee, but his condition is not as
serious as Kidd's. ... Bulls F Paul Shirley will miss the remainder
of the season after bruising a kidney in Monday's night's loss to
Indianapolis. ...G Brandon Armstrong also played a big role in New
Jersey's victory, scoring 11 points in 22 backup minutes. Jefferson
had 12 of his 20 points in the first quarter.