CLEVELAND (AP) -- Jumaine Jones was up for a party.
Hey, it's not like he and the Cavaliers have had many chances to
celebrate this season.
"I feel like popping some champagne,'' Jones said after the
NBA's worst team improved to 11-46. "We came in here and had the
lead at halftime. It had been a long time since we even had that.
This was good for the guys.
"It feels good.''
Ilgauskas also stole a pass from Jason Kidd and hit two key free
throws with 13.7 seconds left for the Cavs, who snapped a six-game
losing streak with their first win since Feb. 5.
Cleveland nearly blew it in the closing seconds, however, and
only survived when Kidd's game-tying 3-pointer at the horn hit the
front of the rim.
"I've seen him make those shots,'' said Cleveland interim coach
Keith Smart, now 3-12 since taking over for John Lucas. "The way
he stepped into it, I thought it was going in.''
Ricky Davis added 19 points and Jones had 12 rebounds for
Cleveland, which led 25-12 after one quarter and held on to snap a
four-game losing skid at home.
"They came out and didn't act like a team with just 10 wins,''
Kidd said. "We fought back like we always do, but we just couldn't
get over the hump.''
Kidd had 31 points, 21 in the second half, and nine assists for
the Nets, who have lost three straight and six of nine since the
New Jersey played without forward Kenyon Martin, who left the
team to attend to a family matter.
But despite missing Martin, shooting poorly all night and
trailing by 17 at one point, the Nets pulled within 88-86 on Kidd's
two free throws with 1:20 remaining.
New Jersey, thought, couldn't come all the way back.
"We missed K-Mart big time,'' Kidd said. "Especially on the
inside game, defensively and rebounding. In the last week, we've
dug a hole and hoped someone would pull us out.''
Davis hit a free throw to give Cleveland an 89-86 lead, and
Ilgauskas picked off Kidd's pass in the lane and was fouled with
13.7 seconds to go.
After the Cavs' center made his free throws, Milt Palacio made
two more to give Cleveland a 91-87 lead with 9.7 seconds left.
But Anthony Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left for
New Jersey, and New Jersey got a last chance when Jones' long pass
went out of bounds.
Kidd dribbled up the floor, launched his 3 from the top of the
key watched it graze the rim as time expired.
"A few weeks ago, we would have let them come all the way back
and beat us,'' Davis said. "It's great to finish it out. It shows
we've grown a little bit and are starting to play like a team.''
Kidd needed to do a little bit more of everything with Martin
out, and in the third quarter New Jersey's All-Star guard almost
single-handedly brought the Nets back.
Kidd, coming off a triple-double, scored 15 points and added
four assists in the period as the Nets trimmed a 14-point deficit
to three entering the fourth.
With their starters shooting just 7-for-26, the Nets scored a
season-low 31 points in the first half and trailed by 14 at the
New Jersey coach Byron Scott said his team was "in a funk''
following a loss to Orlando on Sunday, and the Nets stayed in one
during a first quarter when they scored just 12 points on 4-of-20
"We're down right now,'' Scott said. "We're still in it; that
cloud is still above us.''
Cavs G Dajuan Wagner returned briefly after being poked in
the eye during the second quarter, but sat out until the opening
minutes of the fourth. ... Scott said he expected Martin to rejoin
the club in time for Wednesday's home game against New York. ...
The Cavs activated G Smush Parker before the game and placed G
Bimbo Coles on the injured list with the flu. The Cavs are
reportedly trying to buy out Coles' contract. The 34-year-old Coles
is making $2.4 million and owns an option worth $2.6 million on his
2003-04 deal. ... Brian Scalabrine started in Martin's spot. ...Ilgauskas tied a career-high with six assists.
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Without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers fought valiantly but fell to the Trail Blazers, bringing another season to a disappointing end.
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