Nets show off their depth to beat Rockets


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey Nets general manager Rod Thorn has gotten so much credit for acquiring Jason Kidd that most people tend to forget some of the other moves.

One of the biggest was trading Eddie Griffin, the seventh pick
overall, on the night of the NBA draft to the Houston Rockets for the rights to Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins and Brandon Armstrong.

Jefferson and Collins combined with Keith Van Horn on a game-breaking 11-2 run at the end of the third quarter in leading
the Nets to a 99-90 win over the Rockets.

Houston did not have guard Steve Francis for the second time
this week because of a migraine headache.

"One thing Rod Thorn did this summer was give us some depth,"
said Kerry Kittles, who scored 21 points on 9 of 11 from the field.
"Not just players who can sit on the bench, but players who can go
out and contribute and make things happen. In the second half
Richard and Jason made some big plays."

Van Horn finished with 22 points and Jason Kidd made four baskets down the stretch as the Nets (27-12) surpassed their victory total for all of last season in winning for the seventh time in eight games.

This win came one night after a bad effort in a loss in Toronto.

"We've done a good job this year of coming back from losses," Van Horn said. "This was an important win for us regardless of Houston's record, because we want to go into this (four-game) road trip feeling good about ourselves and the direction we're going."

Moochie Norris had 23 points and Kenny Thomas 21 for the
Rockets, who didn't know that Francis would not be able to play
until game time.

Francis, who had a triple-double on Friday night in Boston,
leads the Rockets in scoring, rebounds and assists.

"It always deflates you," Norris said of not having Francis.
"We talk about it all the time. Your top guy goes down. He's a
leader in three categories."

Van Horn, who played only briefly in the fourth quarter, hit a
3-pointer to start an 11-2 run that ended the third quarter and
gave the Nets a 77-72 lead entering the final period.

Jefferson, who finished with 10 points, tied the game at 71 with
two free throws. Collins then scored the Nets' next four points
before Van Horn capped the run with two free throws.

Houston (13-27) never got closer than five points in the final
quarter as Kittles and Kidd scored eight points apiece.

Kidd, who was 1-for-9 from the field entering the quarter,
finished with 10 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.

Cuttino Mobley added 16 for Houston. Former Seton Hall star
Eddie Griffin, who was acquired in that draft day deal, had six
points and eight rebounds.

Game notes
The Nets are now 16-4 at home. The Rockets are 4-16 on the
road. ...The attendance was 15,061 on a snowy night. ...In their
last two home games, the Nets have outscored their opponents 48-0
on the fast break...The Nets were 12-for-12 from the free throw
line. The Rockets shot 13-for-21. ... New Jersey has won three
straight at home against Houston. ...The Rockets are now 2-23 when
trailing after three periods. ... New Jersey has not lost two
straight since Dec. 21-22.