EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ, March 20 (Ticker) --
For Jason Kidd
and the New Jersey Nets, there's no place like home.
Kidd had 28 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and two steals as the Nets matched a season high with their eighth consecutive home victory, a 97-82 triumph over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Nets have lost eight of nine road contests, including an 82-73 defeat in Portland on March 8 during a winless four-game western road trip. Kidd had a handful of awful shooting nights during that span.
But Kidd shot 11-of-19 on Wednesday at Continental Airlines Arena, where the Nets are 27-6, the second-best home mark in the league behind Sacramento's 31-3.
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Kenyon Martin and the Nets had a arm up on the Blazers all evening long.
"All the great players, when their team needs them to step up, when they have that challenge ... the great ones do that," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "Jason is no doubt one of the best in the league."
In this one, Portland's Ruben Patterson
scored to cut the deficit to 73-68 with 9:34 remaining before New Jersey went on a 16-2 run that was capped by a jumper by rookie Richard Jefferson
with 4:51 left.
Kidd had eight points during the burst for the Nets, who were playing just 24 hours after a controversial three-point loss at Cleveland in which the Cavaliers' Lamond Murrary
caught the ball, squared to the basket and fired the winning shot from the arc -- all in a half-second. New Jersey protested to no avail.
"The thing is we didn't have too long to think about it," Kidd said. "This was a game that we could have easily came in and have our doors blown off and blamed it on last night. That shows the character of the guys that we have and that through adversity, we are going to step up."
scored 18 points and Keith Van Horn
added 14 for the Nets, who shot 51 percent (40-of-79) and limited the Blazers to 42 percent (34-of-82).
"I think the team responded," Kittles said. "The team has been resilient all year long. We have faced adversity, we have been through a lot. Our will has been tested and will be tested.
This team has done a good job of coming together, coming together as a team and taking care of business."
scored 17 points and Damon Stoudamire
added 14 for Portland, which had beaten New Jersey in the last five encounters. It was just the Blazers' second loss in their last 17 contests.
"We just could not find our rhythm," Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Maybe it has something to do with them, but we just could not find our way. We were a step slow here, a step slow there. We could not find a way to get over the hump."
The Nets took the lead for good at 38-36 on a layup by reserve Anthony Johnson
midway through the second quarter. The basket
was part of a 15-0 run that ended with a driving layup by Kidd with 3:06 left in the half that gave the Nets a 48-36 edge.
New Jersey was up by eight points at halftime and five entering the fourth quarter.
"It was a tough game today," said Portland's Bonzi Wells
, who scored 10 points. "We had a tough game against Boston (on Monday).
We knew it was going to be tough to beat two of the top teams in the East, basically back-to-back. Hats off to Jersey.
Jason Kidd really controlled the game. He got everyone involved and that makes everyone happy."
The Nets held big advantages in assists (27-12), points in the paint (44-32) and points off turnovers (25-14).
New Jersey (43-25) has a three-game lead over Detroit atop the Eastern Conference standings.
"This is a great example for us to use the next three or four weeks to get ready for the playoffs," Kidd said. "There's a
little bit at stake with Detroit, Boston and Milwaukee chasing us. We all have to pick up our game."
Portland (41-26) fell into a tie for fifth with Minnesota in the West.
"They just played well," Wells said. "You can say they played angry because of last night, but they just played well. We
were a step slower and they were the better team tonight."