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Kidd assists on game-winner

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Jason Kidd couldn't have scripted a
better ending, except perhaps for a flashier assist on the
game-winning basket.

Making his season debut, Kidd was credited with an assist on
Richard Jefferson's jumper from the lane with 7.1 seconds left that
gave the New Jersey Nets an 88-86 victory over the Toronto Raptors
on Monday night.

Jefferson pretty much did all the work on the key play, catching
Kidd's pass on the right wing, taking three dribbles to his left
and launching a 9-footer that fell through.

"Heck, yeah. He deserved an assist," Jefferson said. "I
finished, but he put me in position to finish it."

After sitting out the season's first 16 games recovering from
left knee surgery, Kidd had 10 points, six rebounds and three
assists in 21 minutes with the Nets restricting his playing time.

Jefferson had 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for New
Jersey, which began the night in last place in the Atlantic
Division after winning only four of its first 16 games with Kidd
sidelined.

"It was a whole different feeling when he was out there," Nets
forward Eric Williams said. "We got the ball up and down the
floor, and the game just looked a whole lot better."

Vince Carter had 22 points for Toronto, but he missed a driving
layup just before the final buzzer that would have sent the game to
overtime. Chris Bosh added 15 points.

"I thought for sure it went in. As I'm turning around heading
to the bench, I see Richard Jefferson holding the ball -- but he
wasn't under the basket," Carter said.

Kidd defended Carter on the final play, the ball bouncing around
the rim and missing to give Toronto its fourth straight loss.

"I wanted to guard him," Kidd said. "We all knew in the
huddle where the ball was going to end up. I wanted to guard him
and try to make it as tough as possible. I thought he was going to
try to win the game by shooting a 3, so I tried to ride him and
make him take it to the basket."

Trade rumors involving Carter and Jalen Rose have been
circulating daily around the Raptors, who were outrebounded 61-36.

"I'm just numb. I am not angry. I'm not frustrated. I'm just
numb," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "It's not my job to
change the roster, it's just my job to coach the players, and I am
going to do that to the best of my ability."

Coach Lawrence Frank limited Kidd to 11 first-half minutes, and
the Nets trailed 47-42 at intermission after Kidd contributed only
two points, two assists and four rebounds with five turnovers.

Travis Best was the Nets' starting point guard at the beginning
of the second half, with Kidd staying seated until 5:40 remained.
Kidd played the remainder of the third quarter, but Jacque Vaughn
replaced him at the start of the fourth.

The Nets trailed 78-73 when Kidd returned with 5:54 left, and
his 3-pointer with 1:56 remaining tied the game at 84-84.

"Watching a lot of basketball, watching the great shooters like
Ray Allen, they don't think, they just shoot," Kidd said. "When
you start to think about maybe passing, that's when your brain
might get in the way of the shot. My new philosophy is just let it
go.

A pair of free throws by Jefferson with 52.5 seconds left made
it 86-84, giving New Jersey its first lead since midway through the
first quarter. Carter tied it 10 seconds later with a pair from the
line.

Game notes
Carter had missed the Raptors' previous game due to food
poisoning. He played 29 minutes and shot 7-for-14. ... Battle of
the redheads: Brian Scalabrine and Matt Bonner, the NBA's only two
redheads, were matched against each other early in the fourth
quarter. Bonner, who began the night leading the NBA in field goal
percentage (60.2 percent), shot just 1-for-6. ... To make room on
the active roster for Kidd, the Nets placed guard Awvee Storey on
the injured list. ... Forward Aaron Williams, who has dropped
almost completely out of the Nets' rotation, played one minute in
the third quarter.