Pacers hold after 4th quarter Nets rally


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Instead of backing up Jason Kidd,
Anthony Johnson got the best of him.

Johnson hit two straight three pointers to hold off a late rally
by his former New Jersey teammates and the Indiana Pacers won their third straight game Thursday night, beating the Nets 87-81.

"It's not personal," said Johnson, who had 17 points in 22
minutes off the bench. "You always want to show a team what they
had and what they let get away."

Johnson spent the last two seasons as Kidd's backup, helping New
Jersey win consecutive Eastern Conference titles.

In re-signing Kidd, the Nets let Johnson go and he signed with the Pacers.

"A situation came up over the summer and they decided to go in
a different direction," Johnson said. "You pick up and go, and
move on."

Kidd wasn't surprised to see Johnson win the game.

"A.J. is very confident," Kidd said after the Nets wiped out
all but two points of a 19-point deficit. "He loves to hit the big
basket or find the open guy. That's the A.J. I know."

Ron Artest had 21 points and Jermaine O'Neal 15 for the Pacers
who built their big lead by holding the Nets to 12 second-quarter points.

"I am stunned," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "I do not
understand why we are not playing with the type of energy that we
are accustomed to seeing."

Kerry Kittles had 23 points and nine rebounds to lead the Nets, who struggled with their shooting for the second straight game.
Richard Jefferson added 18, and Aaron Williams had 15 points and 11
rebounds. Kidd finished with 10 points and eight assists after a 4-for-13 shooting night.

Still missing from the Nets lineup are starters Kenyon Martin and Lucious Harris and reserve Rodney Rogers.

Johnson took over after Jason Collins hit two free throws with 3:48 to play to bring New Jersey within two at 76-74.

With Kidd leaving him open in an attempt to double the ball,
Johnson stood deep in the left corner and nailed a 3-pointer to put
the Pacers ahead 79-74.

After Kidd turned the ball over at the other end of the floor,
Johnson went back to the same corner and waited. O'Neal found him
open with a cross-court pass and again Johnson hit nothing but net.

Kidd said he was hoping to get a steal or pick up an offensive

"We have to live with A.J. making those shots," Kidd said.
"He hit them at the wrong time for our case, but the right time
for them. I'm happy for A.J. Indiana picked up a good basketball

The Nets got within 82-79 with 42 seconds to go on a 3-pointer
by Jefferson.

However, Artest stretched the lead to five with two free throws
with 31.1 seconds left, and Johnson added two more after Kidd
missed a jumper.

The Pacers opened a 59-41 lead with a 37-16 run that bridged the
closing minutes of the second quarter and first seven of the third.

Most of the damage was done in the second quarter when Indiana
outscored New Jersey 26-12. The Nets hit only 5-of-15 from the
field and turned the ball over seven times.

Trailing 64-45 late in the third quarter, the Nets got back into
the game with a 9-0 run. A 15-3 fourth-quarter run that featured
seven straight points by Kittles got the lead down to two points.

Game Notes: Nets coach Byron Scott needs one more win to become the
winningest coach in franchise history. Scott picked up a technical
in the third quarter when he team was struggling. ... Former starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley has not played in the
last three games for Indiana. ... Kidd is now 4-for-22 in his last five quarters. ..Nets F Kenyon Martin missed his third straight
game with an ankle injury. ...The start of the game was delayed
eight minutes by a leak.