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Alley-oop off the backboard to Vince the key highlight

NEW YORK (AP) -- The self-proclaimed "best point guard in the
NBA" did not throw the pass of the night. Jason Kidd did, and
Vince Carter had been waiting almost a decade to see one like it.

Carter dunked an off-the-backboard, alley-oop feed from Kidd,
and the New Jersey Nets defeated the New York Knicks 93-87 Saturday
night.

"It was in college, against Duke, at home -- and I missed it,"
Carter said of the last time he had seen such a pass. "I said the
next time it ever happened again, I'd take care of it.

"I was just expecting him to throw it back to me, but when I
saw him throw it off the backboard, inside I was like `Oh, I know
what to do with this."

Kidd did not outplay counterpart Stephon Marbury one day after
Marbury made his bold declaration about being the NBA's best point
guard.

Marbury had 31 points, eight assists and four rebounds to Kidd's
13 points, three assists and four rebounds, but the Nets led
throughout the final three quarters and did what they usually do
against their cross-river rivals in beating the Knicks for the 17th
time in 20 meetings.

"There was no reason for him to feel he had to say that," Kidd
said. "Don't hammer him too hard. It's too early in the season."

Carter, who assumed the playmaking duties for the Nets during a
large part of the fourth quarter, had 16 points, five assists and
six rebounds, while Richard Jefferson had 17 points, six rebounds
and four assists.

Nazr Mohammed added 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks,
who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

Marbury's statement was the talk of Madison Square Garden prior
to tipoff.

"Don't get me wrong, I love Jason Kidd, he is a great point
guard," Marbury said. "(But) how am I comparing myself to him
when I think I'm the best point guard to play basketball? That
makes no sense. I can't compare myself to somebody when I already
think I'm the best.

"I'm telling you what it is. I know I'm the best point guard in
the NBA," Marbury said.

Kidd spoke only briefly with reporters before tipoff, joking
that he would be just the third-best point guard in the building,
ranking himself behind Marbury and Kidd's son, 6-year-old T.J.

Jefferson was more verbose.

"John Stockton never said he was the best point guard in the
NBA. Michael Jordan, I don't recall too many times him saying he
was the best player, Magic Johnson. You know, not too many guys
come out and say they're the best," Jefferson said. "J-Kidd has
been the No. 1 point guard in the NBA for as long as I've been
here, and never once has he said he's the best."

The game started getting away from the Knicks at the end of the
first quarter when reserve forward Jabari Smith hit a
buzzer-beating 3-pointer -- the first 3 of his career -- to give the
Nets a 26-20 lead.

Rodney Buford went 4-for-4 on jumpers, and Jefferson scored on a
breakaway reverse jam to cap a 20-8 run and give New Jersey a 45-28
lead.

The Nets were ahead 49-36 at the half despite getting zero
points and just one assist from Kidd, but their lead was reduced to
65-58 entering the fourth after Marbury had eight points and four
assists in the third quarter.

Kidd tossed his off-the-backboard, alley-oop pass to Carter with
10:15 left in the fourth quarter to make it 67-60, and the Knicks
remained down by at least a half-dozen points until Marbury scored
on a drive to make it 87-82 with 1:04 left. New York never got
closer.

"This is a step backward," Marbury said. "But like I said, we
want to be on top in April. Right now doesn't matter."

Game notes
Kidd tried another showy alley-oop pass about a minute
after his off-the-backboard pass to Carter, but Rodney Buford was
called for an offensive foul as he converted Kidd's lob into a
layup. The basket didn't count. ... Kidd also had a super-high lob
earlier in the game that Carter couldn't convert. "You want to
throw alley-oops to see how high he really can jump, and I thought
I'd try to throw it to the top of the Garden to see if he'd go get
it. He tried." ... New York's Penny Hardaway was activated from
the injured list before the game and saw his first action since
Dec. 3. He did not score in 13 minutes, and the Knicks' reserves
were outscored 26-10. ... Marbury became the first Knicks player
since Patrick Ewing in 1997 to score at least 30 points in three
consecutive games.