Nets blow late lead, but Jefferson pulls out win vs. Bulls

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- A night after showcasing his new prowess as an outside shooter, Richard Jefferson went back to his strength to beat the Chicago Bulls.

Jefferson converted a three-point play with 1.5 seconds remaining Saturday night to lead the New Jersey Nets past Chicago 100-99. The play came after Chicago's Ben Gordon missed the second of two free throws with seven seconds left and the Bulls leading 99-97.

Jason Kidd pushed the ball upcourt and passed to Jefferson on the left wing. He drove into the lane and was knocked down by Tyson Chandler, but not before muscling the ball into the basket.

"I knew as long as I ran hard, we'd have a five-on-four," Jefferson said. "When he kicked it out to me, the defense shifted and that's how we got the foul."

After Jefferson made the free throw, Chicago had one last chance, but Vince Carter knocked the ball away from Andres Nocioni
before Nocioni could get off a shot.

Jefferson, known as one of the league's premier slashers, put in hours of extra work on his jump shot during the offseason and preseason. In New Jersey's 102-92 win at Toronto on Friday night, he made five 3-pointers and scored 35 points.

Neither Jefferson nor Carter, who each scored 28 points to lead all scorers, was hitting from the outside Saturday, so they concentrated on taking the ball to the basket.

"Our goal is to attack the basket and put the onus on the referees to make the calls," said Carter, who was 9-for-27 from the field. "We weren't hitting our jump shots outside, so we had to be effective some other way."

Carter had two three-point plays on drives to the basket early in the fourth quarter, and when Jefferson followed suit with 4:05 left the Nets led 89-82. The lead was still seven when Nenad Krstic scored inside with 2:49 left for the Nets.

Chicago rallied behind Kirk Hinrich, who finished with 26 points and scored 10 of the Bulls' next 12 points. Back-to-back drives by the guard gave Chicago a 96-93 lead with 28 seconds left.

Jefferson tapped in a rebound to pull New Jersey within a point, and two free throws by Chicago's Chris Duhon with 18 seconds left pushed the lead back to 98-95.

Carter scored on a rebound with 10 seconds left and Gordon was fouled bringing the ball upcourt.

"It's frustrating for me to miss that free throw because of the time and the situation," Gordon said. "It won't weigh on me. It's behind me now. I've just got to make it the next time."

Gordon finished with 23 points off the bench. The Bulls needed his production on a night when their four starters besides Hinrich combined for 19 points.

Krstic scored 17 points for New Jersey and Jefferson, Carter and Kidd combined for 36 rebounds, one fewer than the Bulls had as a team. The Nets outrebounded Chicago 51-37.

Game notes
New Jersey forward Clifford Robinson played 12 minutes, moving him past Hal Greer into 20th place on the NBA's all-time list. Robinson has played 39,790 minutes in his career ... Malik Allen and Jannero Pargo were inactive for Chicago. Ben Handlogten,
Antoine Wright and Linton Johnson III were inactive for New Jersey ... New Jersey has won its last eight meetings with Chicago.