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New Jersey maintains tiebreaker over Cavs

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Jason Kidd and Vince Carter have
carried the New Jersey Nets from what seemed like a wasted season
to the brink of a playoff berth. Now it comes down to one final
night.

Kidd had a season-high 35 points, Carter added 26 points and the
Nets kept control of their own playoff destiny with a 109-101
victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

"This is a situation that no one thought we would be in," Kidd
said after the Nets (41-40) remained tied with Cleveland for the
eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The
Cavaliers beat Boston 100-86 on Tuesday.

"We just kept fighting and now it's come down to the last
game," added Kidd, who had led a surge that has seen the Nets win
14 of 18 games.

The Nets, who beat Cleveland in the season series to earn the
tiebreaker, can clinch the NBA's final playoff berth in one of two
ways: by beating the Celtics in Boston on Wednesday, or having
Cavaliers lose at Toronto.

"It's going to be tough in Boston. It is like a Game 7," Kidd
said. "If you lose, that's the end of the season. It's going to be
a hostile environment. We've been playing extremely well on the
road. We just have to keep executing our game plan and play with
one another. Hopefully, at the end of day, we get a win on the
road."

New Jersey could earn the No. 7 seed with a win at Boston and a
loss by Philadelphia at home against Atlanta.

The eighth seed will face Miami in the opening round of the
playoffs this weekend. The seventh seed will get the defending NBA
champion Detroit Pistons. And with the way Kidd and company are
playing after a season of injuries and transition, the Nets could
be a tough opponent.

Kidd also added eight assists and eight rebounds, while Carter
added nine assists. Brian Scalabrine had 13 points for New Jersey,
which shot nearly 49 percent in beating Washington for the first
time in four games this season.

Larry Hughes had 18 points for the Wizards, who had their
four-game winning streak snapped. Kwame Brown, Antawn Jamison and
Etan Thomas added 14. All-Star Gilbert Arenas was a non-factor with
Kidd defending him, scoring eight points on 2-of-7 shooting.

"We were just going through the motions from the get to,"
Jamison said. "What can you say? They played well, we didn't."

The Nets' win over the Wizards was a carbon copy of Sunday
night's surprisingly easy victory over the Philadelphia 76ers with
Kidd pushing the offense and getting Scalabrine and Carter
involved.

The difference against the Wizards was Kidd deciding to do
everything in leading the Nets to a 32-13 first-quarter lead. He
scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and added two assists, three
steals and four rebounds.

Kidd, who was 13-of-26 from the field, also did a number on
Arenas, holding him scoreless and forcing three turnovers in the
opening 12 minutes. On the offensive end, Kidd posted him low on
the Nets' first possession and got a goaltending call, setting the
stage for a series of jumpers and shots in the lane.

"You are so used to seeing Jason get other guys involved,"
Jamison said of Kidd. "Tonight. it was totally different. It's
been that way the last couple of ballgames. He has been aggressive
as far as trying to put the ball in the basket and really put his
teammates behind him."

New Jersey led by 21 at the half and increased the margin to 28
in the third quarter before the Wizards made a run with a lineup
that included Thomas, Brown and Steve Blake.

A jumper by Juan Dixon cut the Nets' lead to 103-94 with 2:49 to
play, but Kidd drove past Blake for a layup and the New Jersey was
never threatened again, leaving Game No. 82 to decide its playoff
fate.

Game notes
The Wizards' 13 first-quarter points were their second
lowest of the season. They had 11 twice, the last against Indiana
on Apr. 3. ...Kidd's previous high this season was 29 against
Indiana last week. ...Thomas had 11 rebounds for the Wizards, who
never led. ...Carter has scored 20 or more points in 11 straight
games...