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Driving layup lifts Nets to 86-85 win

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Jason Kidd's poise during the manic final
seconds of overtime rescued the New Jersey Nets from a potentially
demoralizing loss to one the of NBA's worst teams.

Kidd ran down a blocked shot, then hit a driving layup as he was
fouled with 2.5 seconds left, lifting the Nets to an 86-85 victory
over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

"I took a peek at the clock to see we had time," Kidd said,
describing the moment he grabbed a loose ball along the sidelines
with about 5 seconds remaining. "Everybody was scrambling, so my
first reaction was drive to the basket -- if I get fouled just make
the free throws, if not, lay it in."

The Hornets still had a chance to win when rookie J.R. Smith,
who had been the Hornets best player of the night, was fouled on a
3-point attempt with 1.5 seconds to go. But Smith missed the first
two foul shots, then tried to miss the third but ended up putting
it in off the backboard, allowing New Jersey to inbound the ball
and run out the clock.

"I've been beating myself up over it because I know I should
have made the free throws," said Smith, who sank to his hands and
knees as the game ended. "Just bad luck really. I'm used to making
big free throws."

Vince Carter led the Nets with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while
Kidd finished with 15 points and nine assists as the Nets (27-35),
who still hope to make the playoffs, halted a three-game losing
streak.

Jacque Vaughn scored 13 points and Nenad Krstic 12 for New
Jersey, which nearly blew a 19-point lead.

Smith had 23 for New Orleans, including a 3-pointer with 1:23
left in regulation that helped New Orleans rally to tie the game.
Chris Andersen had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets, while
Lee Nailon and Dan Dickau each scored 10.

P.J. Brown's jumper gave New Orleans an 84-83 lead with 16.2
seconds left in overtime. Carter missed a jumper on the other end,
but Jason Collins got the rebound as he was fouled to keep the Nets
alive. Collins missed both free throws, then rebounded his second
miss, only to have his putback slapped away by Andersen. Kidd ran
it down and dribbled in for the eventual winning score.

"Jason showed his warrior spirit in getting that offensive
rebound and driving it right to the rim. That's what separates him
from others," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "It wasn't pretty,
but we had to find a way to win it and our guys did. Anytime you're
in a playoff chase on the outside looking in you need to win. You
need to win with a sense of urgency every night."

New Jersey led by 15 early in the third quarter, but Smith and
Andersen fueled an 11-2 run to cut the score to 59-55. Smith hit a
3 and finished a break with a dunk during the run. Smith was out in
front on another break but lost his footing under the basket and
lofted the ball up softly for Andersen, who threw down an alley-oop
dunk to cap the run.

New Orleans tied the game at 75 with four straight points on
Smith's 3, followed by Speedy Claxton's free throw with 58.2
seconds left in the game.

Carter's jumper gave New Jersey a brief lead before Andersen's
off-balance tip-in tied it again. Carter's missed pull-up jumper
then gave New Orleans 8.2 seconds to win the game in regulation.
And although New Jersey was over the limit in fouls, the Hornets
settled for a 3-point attempt by Bostjan Nachbar that missed.

Hornets coach Byron Scott said he wanted Claxton to drive but
the Nets were able to shut off that option, forcing the outside
shot.

New Orleans' early shooting trouble, reminiscent of the droughts
the Hornets experienced in a loss Sunday against Toronto, allowed
New Jersey to open up a quick double-digit lead. New Orleans shot
6-of-23 in the first period.

The Nets responded with an 18-2 run that included Kidd's 3 and
Carter's alley-oop dunk in running out to a 24-9 lead.

"It's a shame that we didn't come out with the defensive
intensity in the beginning of the game. If so, we probably would
have won this game easily," Brown said. "This one hurts. We
wanted it for coach Scott (who previously coached the Nets). It
seems we've lost in about every imaginable way, but this one hurts
the most."

In the second period, Carter hit a 3, then Zoran Paninic hit two
more 3-pointers, and after Kidd stole a rebound from Maceij Lampe
for an easy layup, it was 42-26.

New Orleans finished the last two minutes of the second period
with an 8-0 run that included a jumper and soaring fast break dunk
by Smith and ended with Dan Dickau's off-balance jumper at the
buzzer, leading 45-34 at halftime.

Game notes
Vaughn, who came in averaging 4.6 points per game, scored
12 in the first quarter, then didn't score again until his free
throw in overtime. ... New Orleans failed to score 20 in the first
quarter for the 26th time this season. ... Kidd, who now has 7,101
assists in his career, passed Tim Hardaway (7,095) for 11th
all-time in that category. ... Carter has scored 20 or more points
in 19 of 20 games. ... New Orleans is 0-40 when trailing after
three quarters.