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Davis leaves game after twisting knee

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Hornets did something in their first year
in New Orleans that the Jazz didn't do for the city in five years:
make the playoffs.

The Hornets, who moved to New Orleans from Charlotte after last
season, locked up their fourth straight playoff berth Wednesday
night with an assist from the Sacramento Kings.

Jamal Mashburn scored 24 points, Baron Davis and George Lynch
each added 19 as the Hornets beat the New Jersey Nets 106-97. The
victory, along with Sacramento's 105-99 win against the Washington
Wizards, advanced the Hornets to the playoffs.

"This was a key win tonight," Hornets coach Paul Silas said.
"Not just because we clinched a playoff berth, but because we
might meet this team in the playoffs."

The Jazz, which played in New Orleans from 1974-79, never made
the playoffs while in the city.

The victory might have been costly, however. Davis, who returned
to the lineup March 11 after missing 20 games following surgery on
his left knee, twisted the knee and left the game late in the third
quarter. Silas said after the game it was too early to know how bad
Davis' injury was.

Mashburn, who had just two points in the first quarter, and
Lynch, who had only seven points in the first half, picked up the
slack.

"We've still got a long way to go as far as seeding is
concerned," Mashburn said.

Jamaal Magloire scored 17 for the Hornets and grabbed 16
rebounds, and reserve Robert Pack added 10.

"It takes some pressure off us," Lynch said. "But we can't
look at it like that. We've got to try to improve each game now."

Richard Jefferson led the Nets with 24 points, Kerry Kittles
added 19, Jason Kidd had 17 points and 13 assists, Rodney Rogers 16
points and Jason Collins 10.

New Orleans, which led by as much as 22, saw the Nets cut the
lead to nine on a jumper by Kittles with 2:45 remaining.

Jefferson's layup with 1:57 left pulled New Jersey within 98-91.
The Nets did not score again until Collins hit a free throw with 38
seconds left.

"We were just trying to fight to get back in it," Jefferson
said. "We were without Kenyon Martin, who is our best rebounder.
The guys were a little fatigued."

In the third quarter, tempers flared. An elderly couple was
tossed out of the game after the woman threw a peanut at an
official who called a foul on Lynch. A few minutes later, a shoving
match under the Nets' basket between Magloire and Brian Scalabrine
drew both teams and both coaches onto the floor before officials
restored order.

A double technical foul was called on Magloire and Scalabrine,
plus a flagrant fowl on P.J. Brown.

The Nets opened the game with a 14-4 run before the Hornets'
shots began to fall. New Orleans cut the Nets lead to 22-19 at the
end of the first quarter.

New Orleans pulled ahead 49-41 at the half.

Game notes
The Hornets have clinched their 11th consecutive .500 or
better season. ... Hornets G David Wesley missed his straight game
because of a bruised left foot. ... Nets F Kenyon Martin was out
with a sprained knee. ... Nets G Kittles was presented a plaque
prior to the game recognizing his contributions to his alma mater,
St. Augustine High in New Orleans...the Hornets put single game
home playoff tickets on sale immediately after the game.