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Nets finally win a close one, slipping past Knicks
By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
Mar 9, 2009 - 3:30:34 AM

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Tired of close but not quite, the New Jersey Nets were prepared to seize the next close game they faced.

They didn’t need to. The New York Knicks practically handed it to them.

Devin Harris had 35 points and 10 assists, and the Nets ended a frustrating stretch of narrow defeats by edging the Knicks 106-101 on Sunday.

New Jersey had lost three of four, but could be on a seven-game winning streak had a few plays gone the other way in recent losses to New Orleans (three points), Boston (four) and Orlando (three).

The Nets and Knicks both have to make up ground in the final 20 games to reach the playoffs.

“You look at the Knicks’ season, they are right there in most games,” Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. “Both of us are in very similar situations. We’ve had several close games and they’ve gone either way. Both of us have had leads that we’ve lost, both of us have trailed and come back. That’s why we’re about the same, in terms of where we’re at.”

Vince Carter added 25 points for the Nets.

“We’ve been in a lot of situations these past six games, three, four-point games late, up and down, trying to play catch-up, giving ourselves a chance to win,” Carter said. “We haven’t pulled them out. So for us to pull it out, it’s refreshing.”

Brook Lopez’s bucket gave New Jersey a 100-99 lead, then Harris took Larry Hughes’ turnover the other way for an uncontested layup with none of the Knicks scurrying back on defense, making it a three-point game with 1:15 to go.

Harris and Bobby Simmons each added a pair of free throws in the final seconds after empty New York possessions. The Knicks missed four straight shots and committed three turnovers following Lopez’s go-ahead bucket.

“We didn’t make some shots, and obviously we turned the ball over in key situations, and they made plays at the end,” said Hughes.

David Lee had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Knicks, who opened a five-game trip with their fifth loss in six games. They are 7-22 on the road and fell 3 1/2 games behind eighth-place Chicago for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.

“It was a tough game. It’s our whole mentality. We have to get better as a team. We’re not quite good enough yet,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Jazz 109, Raptors 101

At Toronto, Deron Williams had 25 points and nine assists, Mehmet Okur had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and the Jazz matched their longest win streak since an 11-game run in April, 1999.

Kyle Korver matched a season high with 20 points, Paul Millsap had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko scored 18 for the Jazz, who have won eight straight over Toronto.

Chris Bosh had 30 points and 10 rebounds, Andrea Bargnani scored 20 and Jose Calderon added 10 points and 11 assists for the Raptors, who lost their fifth straight.

Magic 86, Celtics 79

At Boston, Dwight Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds, making a pair of free throws with 13.9 seconds left to ice it after the Celtics cut a 22-point deficit to three.

The Magic won their fourth straight to move two games behind Boston and three behind first-place Cleveland in the East.

Ray Allen had 17 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter for Boston.

Spurs 103, Suns 98

At San Antonio, Tony Parker notched his fourth 30-point performance in his last seven games and the Spurs sent Phoenix home 0-for-4 on its road swing.

Parker scored 30 and sealed San Antonio’s third win this season over the slumping Suns with a one-handed runner with 26.2 seconds left.

Tim Duncan added 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Spurs.

Steve Nash had 23 points and 11 assists for the Suns.

Rockets 93, Grizzlies 83

At Houston, Yao Ming had 24 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks and the Rockets extended their home-court winning streak to 12. Luis Scola added 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Rudy Gay scored 21 points and Marc Gasol added 18 for the Grizzlies, who’ve lost 10 of 11 and seven of their last eight road games. O.J. Mayo, the Grizzlies’ leading scorer, had only 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting after scoring 32 in Memphis’ 104-93 win over Houston on Feb. 4.

Thunder 89, 76ers 74

At Oklahoma City, Nenad Krstic scored 20 points and Malik Rose added a season-high 14 as the Thunder continued their strong play without their two leading scorers.

The Thunder surged ahead by outscoring Philadelphia 20-2 to start the second quarter.

Nick Collison added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which has won four of five without Kevin Durant (ankle) and three of four without Jeff Green (back).

Andre Miller and Thaddeus Young led Philadelphia with 20 points apiece.

Kings 114, Nuggets 106

At Sacramento, Kevin Martin had 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists for the Kings.

Martin connected on five 3-pointers for Sacramento, which tied a season high with 14 3s. Andres Nocioni had 23 points, Spencer Hawes contributed 20 points and eight rebounds, and Francisco Garcia had 19 points.

Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points for Denver.

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