Nets Give Frank 100th Win, Top Hornets
New Jersey 95, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 84
OKLAHOMA CITY, March 12 (Ticker) -- Vince Carter and Jason Kidd helped New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank reach a career milestone.
Carter scored 27 points while Kidd chipped in 15, 12 rebounds and nine assists as the Nets held on for a 95-84 triumph over the reeling New Orleans Hornets.
"I wouldn't be in this position if it weren't for Byron hiring me," said Frank, who was an assistant under Scott for parts of four seasons. "Byron gave me my shot, and I learned a lot from him."
The hallmark win was not easily attained by Frank, whose squad had lost its previous two contests and five of six entering Sunday's game.
But Carter and Kidd made big plays down the stretch as New Jersey (33-28) maintained its 2 1/2-game lead over second-place Philadelphia (31-31) in the Atlantic Division.
"Tonight is about so much more than reaching a milestone," Frank said. "We got a quality win in a hostile environment, and it is a good lift for everyone."
Rookie sensation Chris Paul knocked down a floater in the lane to draw the Hornets within 82-78 with 2:41 remaining.
The Nets failed to answer when Richard Jefferson bricked a jumper, but Hornets swingman Rasual Butler missed a pair of 3-pointers over the next minute and Kidd drained a 3-pointer with 1:39 left to push New Jersey's lead to 85-78.
Nenad Krstic converted a layup on the next possession to give the Nets a nine-point lead. Carter made all six of his free throws in the final 36 seconds to seal the victory.
"We expected them to make a run in the second half," Kidd said. "The crowd got back into the game, but we kept our composure, got stops when we needed to, and Vince carried us down the stretch."
Jefferson scored 19 points and Krstic added 17 and eight boards for New Jersey, which shot 52 percent (31-of-60) from the floor.
The Nets also received a nice contribution from reserve guard Zoran Planinic, who scored a season-high 11 points.
"It was a total team effort tonight with contributions from everyone," Frank said. "We shot the ball extremely well, but what hurt us were the turnovers that led to some big buckets."
Paul collected 17 points and seven assists while reserve Speedy Claxton added 12 points for the Hornets (31-31), who have lost a season-high six straight games to fall one-half game behind Sacramento (32-31) for eighth place in the Western Conference.
"We are digging ourselves a big hole by losing these games," Paul said. "Maybe what we need is a reality check and realize that the playoffs can be taken away from us."
The Hornets dominated several facets of the game, forcing 21 turnovers and outscoring the Nets in the paint, 44-26. But they shot just 41 percent (33-of-81) and often settled for perimeter shots rather than attacking the basket.
The passive attitude prompted Scott to question his team's overall toughness.
"We are playing soft right now," Scott said. "Every team we are going against is thinking we are soft, and the only way to change that is to not be soft. If we lose going at it 110 percent, then we can live with that. But we are just not doing that."