New Jersey 100, New York 86

EAST RUTHERFORD, April 13 (AP) -- Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets took no satisfaction in eliminating the New York Knicks from the playoff race. They should get plenty of pleasure from qualifying themselves for the postseason.

"They were on the schedule,'' said Kidd, who had his 87th triple-double. "Nobody was celebrating that we knocked the Knicks out. We got a much-needed win.''

The 100-86 victory over the Knicks, combined later Friday night with Indiana's loss to Miami, put the Nets into the playoffs for a sixth straight season.

"At one point, playoffs for us seemed farfetched in a lot of peoples' minds,'' said Vince Carter who led New Jersey with 25 points. "As a unit, we stuck together. As bad as we played some nights, we still had our goal of making the playoffs.''

Kidd had 13 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for his 12th triple-double this season. Kidd was the catalyst in a 21-9 run at the start of the third quarter that carried the Nets to their seventh win in the last 10 games.

He completed the triple-double with an assist on Bostjan Nachbar's 3-pointer with just over two minutes remaining in the third period, giving the Nets a 79-64 lead.

Richard Jefferson had 24, Mikki Moore and Nachbar each had 13 for the Nets who made 16-of-36 from 3-point range.

The Nets bounced back from a 94-76 road loss Thursday to the Cavaliers with a victory over their favorite opponent. New Jersey has won 21 of the last 25 from New York and is 19-4 against the Knicks since the arrival of Kidd.

Steve Francis led the Knicks with 22 points as New York dropped its third straight and lost for the 11th time in the last 13 games. The Knicks are 3-13 since coach Isiah Thomas received a contract extension.

Despite the slump, the injury-depleted Knicks were still in the playoff hunt until the loss to the Nets.

"It's always disappointing,'' Thomas said. "I am proud of the way the guys have competed. We've got three games left. We'll keep working, we'll keep competing.''

Mardy Collins had 21 points and Eddy Curry 20 for New York.

The Nets' 21-9 run gave them a 65-56 lead and firm control of the game in the third period. The final basket of the surge was a 3-pointer by Carter set up by a spectacular behind-the-back pass from Kidd that brought the crowd to its feet.

Kidd had 13 points in the spurt while dishing out three assists.

The Nets outscored the Knicks 40-21 in the period. New Jersey started the fourth quarter with an 84-68 lead and Kidd enjoying an extended rest on the bench.

Neither team shot well in the first quarter that ended with the Nets leading 18-15. Jefferson had five points to lead New Jersey, which was 7-of-21 from the field. Curry paced the Knicks with seven as New York went 7-of-19.

The tempo quickened in the second quarter as both teams found the range. New York led 47-44 at the half as the Knicks scored the final four points on a pair of free throws by Francis and a bank shot by Collins with 1.6 seconds remaining.

Notes: The Nets and Knicks meet for the fourth and final time this season Monday at Madison Square Garden. ... Knicks F Renaldo Balkman missed a third straight game with a stomach virus. ... The Knicks activated G Stephon Marbury, but he did not see action for a fourth straight game with a toe injury. ... Curry was whistled for a technical foul with 2:35 remaining in the first quarter for protesting a loose-ball foul. ... Jared Jeffries was called for a flagrant foul late in the third quarter for a chopping blow to Carter's groin.

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