Despite all the talk, the New Jersey Nets decided to keep Jason Kidd and Vince Carter. After not dealing their stars away at the trading deadline, the Nets hope at least one of them is healthy enough to play as they host the Sacramento Kings on Friday.

Both Kidd and Carter were rumored to be leaving New Jersey for other destinations over the past few weeks, but the trading deadline came and passed Thursday with both players still sporting Nets uniforms. While New Jersey (25-30) has underachieved this season, the team remains just two games out of a playoff spot in the East and just 4 1/2 games behind Toronto in the Atlantic Division.

"Without divulging names or cities, we had conversations with a whole bunch of people, particularly in the last three to four days, and I can't say we ever got close to doing anything," Nets president Rod Thorn said.

The next item on the agenda for New Jersey is getting Kidd back to full health. He missed two games and the All-Star game last week because of a sore back and the Nets confirmed Thursday that he has a cracked rib, an injury that may have caused him to shoot 2-for-14 in the Nets' 111-107 loss to New Orleans on Wednesday.

Nets coach Lawrence Frank said the team didn't reveal the injury because it didn't cause Kidd to miss any games and that team doctors discovered it "almost by mistake."

"The implication was that it was being concealed, which would be a falsehood," Frank said. "We're not going to disclose every nick, bruise or bump that's not preventing a guy from playing."

Kidd, who has eight triple-doubles, is questionable for Friday's contest. New Jersey is hoping he can get healthy in a hurry, because with Miami's Dwyane Wade getting hurt Wednesday, the Nets need to make a run to get back into the conference race.

While the Nets have lost three straight, the final four opponents on this five-game homestand have a combined record of 90-122.

"It's a great opportunity, but we still have to win games," said Carter, who had a season-high 46 points on Wednesday. "We have to do it together as a unit. Right now it's all about finding a way and getting it done. There's no trickery; we have 27, 28 games to get it done. If not, it's going to be a long summer."

The Nets lost 88-87 to Sacramento on Jan. 22, blowing a 20-point lead. Kidd had a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, but Carter had just eight points. That was the first of three consecutive one-point losses by New Jersey.

Sacramento (23-30) visits New Jersey following a close 109-106 loss to Washington on Thursday in the opener of a four-game road trip. John Salmons took a long inbounds pass with 0.7 seconds remaining and buried a turnaround jumper at the 3-point arc that referees originally ruled a made 2-point basket. After a video review, the shot was determined to be a 3-pointer released just after the clock hit 0.0.

"I was thinking we were going to overtime, then they just called the game," Salmons said. "The time was close. You couldn't really tell one way or the other. I don't know if it's the right thing to call the game or not, but they called it. ... Any time you lose on a controversial call, it's tough because you feel like they took it out of your hands."

Ron Artest had 32 points and Mike Bibby, who was also the subject of trade rumors, finished with six 3-pointers and 30 points for the Kings, who nearly overcame a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit but still lost for the fourth time in five games.

The Kings have won the last three meetings with the Nets and seven of the last nine between the teams.


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