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Kidd, Nets drop Magic to eighth straight loss

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets
are starting to get the hang of these comeback wins.

Kidd scored 28 points, including seven in the final 2:29, to
help New Jersey defeat Orlando 96-93 Wednesday night, hours after
the Magic traded Steve Francis to the Knicks.

Erasing second-half deficits hasn't been the Nets' strength this
season. Entering the All-Star break, New Jersey was 5-18 record
when trailing after two quarters.

That was before Tuesday's 89-85 win at Milwaukee in which the
Nets rallied to win behind Vince Carter's 45 points. On Wednesday,
Kidd stepped to the fore to put down a spirited effort by the
Magic.

Richard Jefferson added 23 points and Carter scored 22 for New
Jersey (30-23), which has won seven of its last nine games. Keyon
Dooling scored 23 to lead Orlando (19-34), which has lost eight
straight and 12 of 13.

Dooling had just tied the game at 85 with a jumper with 3:07
left when Carter missed an 18-footer for New Jersey. The rebound
was tapped by Clifford Robinson, then slapped out to Kidd at the
top of the key by Jason Collins. Kidd buried the shot and the Nets
led the rest of the way, though they only escaped for good when
Carlos Arroyo's 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer.

Carter has been the Nets' usual workhorse in the late stages of
games this season, but Kidd sensed his teammate might be dragging
just a little after his Herculean effort a night earlier.

"It was more of a feeling," Kidd said. "Vince might have been
a little tired. I don't want him to feel that he has to carry the
team every night. That's what teammates do. He was getting so much
attention, other guys had to step up."

Playing without Francis and with Jameer Nelson (sprained right
foot), Hedo Turkoglu (sprained left ankle) and Grant Hill (lower
abdominal strain) sidelined, the Magic outhustled the Nets in the
first two quarters and led by as many as 13 points in the third
quarter.

"I don't know if it was the trade, but we were more focused,"
said DeShawn Stevenson, who had 14 points. "Everybody went out
there and played together as a team."

Dwight Howard scored 17 for the Magic.

Kidd, Carter and Jefferson scored nine straight points to help
New Jersey trail by one going into the fourth.

Dooling, Arroyo and Stevenson combined for 36 points on
15-for-20 shooting in the first half before New Jersey made
adjustments at halftime and held them to just 14 points in the
second half.

"In our mind we felt they were going to play even harder
because they were undermanned," Carter said. "But the effort in
the first half was not what we wanted."

Carter drew Dooling's fifth foul and Kidd scored on a driving
left-handed layup to give the Nets an 85-80 lead with under four
minutes to play. But Pat Garrity rattled in a 3-pointer and
Dooling, left alone 18 feet from the basket, sank a jumper to tie
the game.

Kidd responded with his 3-pointer and, after Dooling missed a
jumper, a drive down the right side for another score to restore
the lead to five points. Garrity sank another 3-pointer to cut the
lead to 94-92 with 27 seconds left, and Carter missed a foul shot
after an intentional foul. On the ensuing possession, Kidd made two
free throws with 18 seconds left to push the lead to 96-92.

Orlando outshot New Jersey 53 percent (36-for-68) to 42 percent
(33-for-78) but missed 12 free throws and attempted only six
3-pointers, making two. Coach Brian Hill was impressed with his
team's effort.

"I'm proud of the way they played," Hill said. "I told them
to keep two things in mind: if we play as hard as we did tonight
and we play as unselfishly sharing the ball, we'll win our share of
games down the stretch."

Game notes
Trevor Ariza, acquired along with Penny Hardaway for
Francis, sat on the bench in street clothes as he had yet to take
his physical. He said he learned about the trade while sitting in a
barber's chair in Harlem Wednesday afternoon ... Hardaway was not
in attendance ... The Nets face Francis and the Knicks Friday at
Madison Square Garden ... The Nets honored Julius Erving and the
30th anniversary of the franchise's ABA championship in 1975-76 at
halftime.