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Warriors lose fourth straight

3/6/2004

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The difference was experience: The New
Jersey Nets have it, and the Golden State Warriors are getting it
the hard way.

Richard Jefferson scored 23 points and the Nets made a late
rally for their second victory in three games without Jason Kidd,
beating the slumping Warriors 78-74 Friday night.

The Nets trailed the entire game until Lucious Harris' jumper
gave them a 75-74 lead with 1:58 left. On nearly every possession
of the final four minutes, something occurred to highlight the
playoff-tested Nets' cohesion -- or to point out the young Warriors'
growing pains.

While New Jersey rallied to win in those final four minutes,
Golden State was held scoreless. Jefferson, who made an acrobatic
layup with 1:22 left, could see the difference between the teams.

"Our experience," he said. "Every guy that was out on that
floor has played in the NBA Finals the last two years. When it
comes down to it, you know to pick it up. You know how to play. You
know that you've got to talk on every single situation.

"We've got experience together. I think that's where our
teamwork really showed in the last two minutes."

Jason Richardson scored 22 points for the Warriors, who lost
their fourth straight. Mike Dunleavy had 20, but his team blew
another home game with a pathetic fourth-quarter effort on offense.
A few weeks ago, Golden State scored just two points in the fourth
quarter of a home loss to Toronto.

"We forced a couple of turnovers and got them out of their
rhythm a little bit at the end," said Kerry Kittles, who scored 17
points. "We're not one of those teams that'll come out and
outscore you. We like to grind it out with D. That's what we were
doing."

The Nets were whistled for a shot-clock violation with 5.9
seconds left, but Richardson accidentally kicked the ball out of
bounds on the inbounds play. Kittles hit one free throw to clinch
it.

"When you're playing one of the best teams in the league,
you're not going to get some calls," Richardson said of the final
play. But in that situation, I still need to get a shot up. When
the game is on the line, you have to find a way."

Both teams were missing key injured players in a physical,
low-scoring game.

Golden State struggled without point guards Speedy Claxton and
Nick Van Exel, while Kidd sat out his third straight game with a
bruised left knee.

The Warriors have been beset by injuries all season, but
Claxton's absence has cost them any cohesion on offense. The
6-foot-9 Dunleavy started at point guard, and rookie Mickael
Pietrus went scoreless his first NBA start at small forward.

"You can see what happens when New Jersey is without Jason
Kidd," Warriors coach Eric Musselman said. "They become
discombobulated quickly without him on the court. But without our
two point guards and (forward Troy) Murphy, you really can't fault
our kids. They continue to play hard."

Kidd had hoped to return in front of his hometown Oakland fans,
but decided to rest until Sunday's game against the Los Angeles
Lakers. The Nets are 2-1 without him on their four-game road trip.

After having lunch with his mother and sister, Kidd went through
an energetic workout before the game. On the sideline, he jumped up
and cheered with his teammates -- even signaling for a first down
after one Golden State turnover.

"I think it's going in the right direction," Kidd said. "I'm
hopeful for (Sunday). ... Those guys cheer for me when I'm out
there. That's what makes this team so special."

All-Star Kenyon Martin had just nine points, and nobody else
scored more than eight.

"Defense is our offense, without a doubt," said New Jersey
coach Lawrence Frank, who improved to 16-3. "We are not the
greatest shooting team, but the key is that you have to know who
you are."

Game notes
Nets G Brandon Armstrong, an East Bay native, got some rare
playing time. He scored four points in 12 minutes and was on the
floor in the final seconds. ... Richardson made a spectacular layup
late in the first quarter. His hand was pulled off the ball by a
New Jersey foul in mid-air, but he regained possession and made a
no-look shot behind his head. ... 49ers defensive end Andre Carter
attended the game.