Daily Confidential

After an emotional double-overtime loss continued a rough stretch, the New Jersey Nets hope a meeting with the struggling Boston Celtics will spark a turnaround.

Jason Kidd tied Wilt Chamberlain for third all-time with 78 career triple-doubles Thursday, but missed a 3-pointer with three seconds left as the Nets lost 161-157 to Phoenix in double overtime loss to Phoenix.

``Any time you lose it is tough,'' said Kidd, who scored a season-high 38 points to go with 14 rebounds and 14 assists. ``But I think the biggest thing is that the effort was there. There was no one that was out there that was going through the motions.

``We fought, we had opportunities to win the game and they had them too. I think both teams just wanted to win. Unfortunately some one had to lose and it was us. If we can come out and play like this it gives us a chance to win.''

The 318 total points matched the league's fourth-highest total from Jan. 11, 1984, when Denver beat San Antonio 163-155.

Thursday's game had 34 lead changes and 21 ties and the Nets (7-11) surpassed their own record for points in a game, but still lost for the eighth time in the last 10 games.

Despite the loss, the Nets hope they can build on the strong effort and start a string of wins. They host Memphis on Monday and close out a six-game homestand against Milwaukee two days later.

The Nets are 6-3 against the Eastern Conference and 3-0 within the Atlantic Division. They have also defeated Boston four straight times and in six of the last seven meetings.

Kidd has had success against the Celtics, averaging 15.8 points and 8.8 assists in 19 games against them since joining the Nets prior to the 2001-02 season.

The Celtics (5-13) are hoping to snap a season-high five-game slide after losing 116-111 to Phoenix on Friday. They have not lost six in a row since Jan. 29-Feb. 6 of last season.

``I like the way we played tonight,'' Celtics forward Paul Pierce said Friday, when he scored a team-high 36 points. ``We turned them over a lot, but the difference was our defense once again. We couldn't get the stops we needed.''

The Celtics are allowing 105.2 points per game during their five-game losing streak, and 101.7 for the season.

Boston usually needs a top effort out of Pierce to win. The nine-year veteran is shooting 53.6 percent from the field, averaging 33.8 points and 7.2 rebounds in Celtics wins.

He has shot just 41.4 percent in losses.

Boston is expected to be without second-leading scorer Wally Szczerbiak for the third game in a row due to a sprained left ankle. He could return for Monday's contest at New York.

Tony Allen will likely continue starting in Szczerbiak's absence. The 24-year-old guard scored 18 points against the Suns, but failed to score in Wednesday's loss to Memphis.

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