CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- David Wesley had a big red knot on his
forehead and a splitting headache. He had ice packs on both knees
and his right elbow while both of his feet soaked in water.
As long as the Charlotte Hornets won, it was all worth it.
Wesley shook off a head-to-head collision with Jason Kidd, then
lifted Charlotte back into the Eastern Conference semifinals by
scoring 22 points and providing an emotional spark in the Hornets'
115-97 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Thursday night.
"I've got a headache and I'm feeling kind of numb," he said.
"But I knew I could continue to play, and with the season on the
line, there was no way I wouldn't."
Baron Davis scored 26 points, Jamaal Magloire added 16 points
and six blocked shots, and George Lynch had 12 points and 12
rebounds for the Hornets, who trail the Nets 2-1 in the
best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Sunday in Charlotte.
Kidd, who needed stitches to close a gash over his right eye
following the collision with Wesley late in the first half, scored
just 13 points. He played just five minutes and scored four points
after smacking his head.
New Jersey's trainers said "they lost count" of how many
stitches Kidd needed and the guard did not answer questions after
the game. He was escorted out of the locker room and walked with
his head down straight to the bus.
"Jason's injury did have an impact on the game and it was a
negative one," said Kenyon Martin, who also scored 13 points.
"When your leader goes down, it's kind of hard to swallow."
The game was played on the eve of the NBA owners' scheduled vote
on Charlotte's relocation request and it is an expected formality,
with approval of the Hornets' move to New Orleans all but
The pending departure of the 14-year-old franchise failed to
increase the crowd as just 11,363 turned out in one of the Hornets'
final games in Charlotte.
But those on hand were loud and even rowdy at times, standing
and waving towels while coaxing on the Hornets.
"We don't need 23,000 in here," Wesley said. "The fans who do
come are behind us 100 percent. I think they sense the ending
coming and they come here and show appreciation for the 14 years
we've given them."
The fans gave Wesley, at five years the longest tenured Hornet
and Charlotte's captain, two standing ovations. One came late in
the game when he turned to the fans and began clapping as New
Jersey shot meaningless free throws.
The first ovation came when he left the court after the
frightening collision with Kidd.
Kidd was dribbling the ball up court when Davis poked it away
from behind. As Kidd reached to his left to get it back, Wesley
stepped in front of him and the two hit heads.
Both fell to the floor grabbing their heads and the Hornets had
to call a timeout to stop play and trainers rushed onto the floor
to help them.
Kidd, blood streaming down his face, walked to the locker room
with a towel covering his face. Wesley was on the court for several
minutes before being helped to his feet and then needed assistance
Kidd, who remained in the locker room at the start of the second
half, returned to the game with 8:56 left in the third quarter, two
bandages covering his eyebrow.
Wesley started the second half -- getting hugs from his mother
and his teammates before play resumed -- and proved he was fine by
draining an 18-foot jumper from the left corner just over a minute
into the third quarter.
"He's a little battering ram," Brown said. "It was very
scary, he's one of our leaders. But he got up like a warrior and
bounced right back."
Wesley's basket came during a stretch of seven straight
Charlotte points -- two of the baskets were fast-break layups by
Davis that Kidd would have tried to defend if he'd been in the
game -- that gave the Hornets a 58-48 lead.
Even after Kidd came back, the Nets couldn't.
They cut the score to 61-55 on Kidd's driving layup, his only
basket of the third quarter, but Davis answered with a 3-pointer
that sparked a 15-5 run.
"Jason's the leader, when the leader goes down you're going to
struggle," Hornets coach Paul Silas said. "When he came back in,
he didn't respond too well and they couldn't get any rhythm with
him out of there."
New Jersey had several breakdowns during the stretch -- Kidd and
Williams had two turnovers, the Nets committed four fouls and
Magloire blocked two shots -- that helped the Hornets build a 76-60
lead with 2:26 left in the third.
Kidd had to leave the game again when blood began trickling down
his face and he didn't come back until the fourth quarter was under
way. By that time, the Nets trailed 90-74 and couldn't climb back.
Hornets leading scorer Jamal Mashburn missed his sixth
straight game with lingering effects from a virus and was a no-show
on the sidelines after Silas made attendance optional but did say
"his presence sure would help uplift us." Several Hornets wore
armbands with Mashburn's jersey No. 24 on them. ... Nets reserve
Lucious Harris, who scored 24 points in Game 2, was held scoreless
in the first half and finished with just two points. ... New
Jersey's bench outscored Charlotte 44-33, increasing the three game
total to 115-75.
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