Nets rally to beat Magic

Nets 96, Orlando 95
January 3, 2008 6:07:58 AM PST
After leading the Nets to another win, point guard Jason Kidd did not want to talk about reaching his latest milestones.Kidd proved again why he is one of the NBA's most versatile guards, making a key defensive stop and nearly getting a triple double to lift the New Jersey Nets over the Orlando Magic in a 96-95 comeback Wednesday night.

He accomplished two impressive feats. Kidd entered the game one assist shy of 9,000 and three rebounds short of Magic Johnson for fourth place on the career list for rebounds by a guard.

He accomplished both in the first 5 minutes, but Kidd didn't want to talk about that. He was more interested in winning for Nets assistant Brian Hill, fired as Magic coach last season, and Darrell Armstrong, a veteran guard who got his start here.

"When my career is over I will have plenty of time to look at my stats and see hopefully that I can keep climbing up the ladder," said Kidd, who had 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. "Some of those guys are pretty good. I haven't really thought about that."

Vince Carter had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and the Nets got double figures from four bench players.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 23 points for Orlando on 7-for-17 shooting, Carlos Arroyo had 16 points and seven assists, Rashard Lewis scored 14 and Dwight Howard had 13 points and 13 rebounds.

The Nets trailed most of the game, but finally came back in the fourth quarter. Malik Allen hit a couple of jumpers and Kidd fed Richard Jefferson for a reverse layup on a terrific play that even the Orlando crowd admired. The score trimmed the Magic's lead to 84-80 with 6 minutes left.

Less than a minute later, Kidd hit a long 3 that drew the Nets even closer, and they finally took an 87-86 lead on Allen's fast-break jumper with 4:32 left.

"Our guys were very, very gutsy," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said.

The teams traded buckets down the stretch and Orlando had the last chance. The Magic had two tries to score and regain the lead with less than 30 seconds left, and both times Turkoglu had the opportunity. He missed the first, an off-balance jumper. And with 12.9 seconds left, he lost the ball while driving the lane.

"I just read the situation," Turkoglu said. "I saw the opening and went for the drive. I guess it was too crowded down there and I couldn't finish it up."

A big key to the Nets rally was Armstrong, still a fan favorite here after playing with Orlando from 1995 to 2003. He had nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3 and a long jumper that put the Nets up 94-93 with 50 seconds left.

"It always feels good to come back here and not only play well, but to win," Armstrong said. "I am 39 years old and I still go out here and play the game hard, not only in games but in practice."

The Magic were coasting all game after closing the first quarter with an 18-3 run. Adonal Foyle scored six in the stretch on a short hook, layup and reverse layup, and New Jersey committed five of its seven first-quarter turnovers.

It was all without Howard, who sat out most of the quarter after picking up two early fouls and a rare technical arguing the second one.

Arroyo made his third start in a row - the first significant lineup tinkering for first-year Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. Previous starter Jameer Nelson came off the bench and played the entire second quarter, but had four points on 2-for-8 shooting.

Bostjan Nachbar hit the floor hard after taking an elbow to the face from Howard, who was grabbing a rebound.