New Jersey 91, Chicago 86

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Jan. 5 (AP) -- Jason Kidd knew time was on the New Jersey Nets' side, even when Chicago was scoring the first 18 points of the game.

In the end, Kidd and Vince Carter combined to score 10 straight points down the stretch, and New Jersey rallied to beat the Bulls 91-86 on Friday night.

"This is a veteran ballclub,'' Kidd said. "We never panic. We feel if we can get a stop, come down and explore and share the ball, we feel we're just as good as anybody. Tonight, we made a run at the right time.''

Carter finished with 21 points, while Kidd had 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Nets earned their first three-game winning streak. Richard Jefferson scored 18 points and Bostjan Nachbar, making his first start as a Net, had 16.

Luol Deng scored 22 points to lead Chicago. Andres Nocioni had 19, Ben Gordon 15 and Kirk Hinrich 13 as the Bulls dropped their 10th straight in New Jersey.

With the Bulls leading 84-81, Carter started the decisive run with a dunk with 2:49 remaining. He followed with a pair of free throws and another basket as the Nets took the lead for good with 1:05 left.

On the Bulls' next possession, Kidd stole Gordon's pass for a fast-break layup. After Deng missed two free throws, Kidd closed the stretch with a spectacular shot. With his back to the basket, Kidd flipped the ball over Ben Wallace off the glass to put New Jersey up 89-84.

"I felt if I drove, I would maybe suck someone in and find someone for an open 3,'' Kidd said. "No one came to me, so I was a little stuck. I just threw it up, hoping it would hit the rim and kill some time but it hit the backboard and went in.''

Carter left the door open for the Bulls when he missed two free throws with 11 seconds remaining and the Nets holding an 89-86 lead.

Wallace appeared to pull the Bulls within one, but he was called for offensive interference and the basket was waved off.

"I thought it was a botched-up dunk that was good,'' Wallace said. "We have to do a better job of finishing games. We started strong, but we forgot we had to play another three quarters.''

The Bulls threatened to blow away the Nets at the start, scoring the first 18 points as they shot 7-for-10 from the field. Nocioni led the way with seven.

The Nets missed their first nine shots from the field while committing four turnovers. New Jersey finally got on the scoreboard when Jefferson made a free throw with 5:26 left.

"Once we got our first point, we settled down and played basketball,'' Carter said. "We knew we just had to play through it.''

The Nets' first basket was Kidd's layup with 4:49 remaining.

The Nets recovered late in the period, closing with a 15-5 run, triggered by seven points from Jefferson, that left the Bulls with a 23-15 lead.

The Bulls helped the Nets back into the game by committing 20 turnovers and 35 personal fouls.

"We just got really careless and didn't make wise decisions,'' Bulls coach Scott Skiles said.

New Jersey kept that momentum in the second quarter, outscoring Chicago 33-20. The Nets took their first lead of the game when Carter sank a 3-pointer to put New Jersey up 34-33 with 4:17 left in the half.

The Bulls led 68-66 after three quarters as Deng was Chicago's high scorer in the period with eight. The game remained close in the fourth.

Notes: The undersized Nets gained one and lost one on the big-man front. Cliff Robinson returned after missing 22 games due to left knee surgery, while Jason Collins sat out with a strained lower back. "Jason is day to day,'' Nets coach Lawrence Frank said before the game. "He had a good therapy session today.'' Nachbar started for Collins. ... Bernard Robinson, acquired by the Nets on Wednesday from the Bobcats, was inactive. Frank said paperwork prevented Robinson from practicing with the team. ... Hinrich was back in the Bulls' starting lineup after missing two games with a groin strain. ... The Bulls and Nets meet again Thursday in Chicago. ... The Bulls last won at the Meadowlands on April 17, 2001.


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