The New Jersey Nets hope to have Jason Kidd back in the lineup as they host the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday, though the All-Star point guard might not be around for long.

The game is the opener of a five-game homestand for the Nets, who are looking to turn around their season after limping into the All-Star break. The favorite to win the Atlantic Division before the season began, New Jersey has lost six of its last nine and is now 4 1/2 games behind first-place Toronto.

The Nets (25-29) are missing center Nenad Krstic, out for the year following knee surgery, and Richard Jefferson, who's out until at least March following ankle surgery. They also missed Kidd for the final two games before the break because of a sore back that also forced him to pull out of the All-Star game, though he did travel to Las Vegas to take part in the festivities.

He wanted the time to let his back heal so he could be ready for the stretch run, but now there's been trade rumors involving Kidd, who's averaging 14.3 points, 8.7 assists and a career-high 8.0 rebounds despite going through a nasty public divorce.

"They have to do what's best for the franchise if the team is underachieving," Kidd said of the Nets. "Business always gets in the way of basketball, so you just have to be happy with wherever you might end up."

While Kidd isn't lobbying for a trade, there's been talk he could end up on the West Coast, as he is a native of California. The trade deadline is Thursday.

"I've heard the (potential) takers, but you don't know what to believe," Kidd said. "Everybody has their inside source."

As long as Kidd is around, New Jersey needs to take advantage of his skills. After this homestand ends, the Nets begin a season-high six-game road trip and could find themselves trailing the Raptors by a larger deficit if they can't win at home.

New Jersey has won six in a row overall against New Orleans and six of the last eight at home.

The Hornets (25-29) had won nine of their last 12 going into the All-Star break, but lost 104-100 to Charlotte on Tuesday night. New Orleans is just 8-18 on the road and has lost 13 of its last 16 away from home.

Tuesday's contest took on a playoff-like atmosphere in the second half, with five players receiving technical fouls. Chris Paul and David West were both hit with technicals for the Hornets, who led by one entering the fourth quarter but couldn't keep it up against one of the NBA's worst teams.

"They won the game, so I say it brought their emotion and their intensity up more than ours," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We don't have the killer instinct, period. We're comfortable at home, but on the road we're not a very good team right now."

Paul finished with 20 points and seven assists while Tyson Chandler had 16 points and 20 rebounds for New Orleans. It was Chandler's sixth straight double-double and his third game in the last five with 20-plus rebounds.

The teams play again on March 13 in Oklahoma City.


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