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N.J. a game behind Phila. for final playoff spot

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Jason Kidd kept the New Jersey
Nets' playoff hopes alive with his 66th career triple-double and
fourth-quarter shove that pretty much put the New York Knicks in
their place.

Kidd had 28 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds and he hit two
game-clinching shots after being called for a technical foul for
angrily shoving Jerome Williams in a 110-98 win on Thursday night
that sent New York to its season-high eighth straight loss.

"Kidd is amazing, he does it every night," Knicks forward Kurt
Thomas said. "He brings it and he gets everyone involved."

The win was the eighth in 11 games for the Nets (37-39), and it
moved them within a game of idle Philadelphia (37-37) in the race
for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

New Jersey, which also got 32 points from Vince Carter, has six
games remaining, two less than the 76ers.

The Kidd play that everyone will remember came with 5:27 to go
and the Nets clinging to a 99-91 lead. They had led by 27 points in
the third quarter.

With Stephon Marbury dribbling the ball near midcourt and Kidd
guarding him, Williams came out 30 feet from the basket and set a
late screen. Kidd ran into it and shoved Williams to the court,
drawing a technical foul.

Jerome Crawford made the free throw to cut the lead to seven,
but Kidd responded by hitting a 17-foot jumper and a 3-pointer to
put the game out of reach.

Kidd downplayed the incident.

"I don't get excited about playing them any more," Kidd said
of the Knicks. "They're just another bad team. I don't get excited
playing bad teams."

Williams felt he did nothing wrong.

"I guess he doesn't like being picked," he said.

The loss pushed the Knicks (29-45) to the brink of being
eliminated from playoff contention. A win by Philadelphia win or a
loss by the Knicks will end the misery for the team.

"We can't come out flat at the beginning and expect to win
games," said Marbury, who scored 21 of his 30 points in the second
half in rallying the Knicks.

Jamal Crawford added 26 for the Knicks.

Williams was also involved in another ugly fourth-quarter
moment, drawing a technical foul in the closing minutes with a hard
foul that sent Carter flying on a drive to the basket.

Carter bounced up quickly and seemed to want to go after
Williams, but cooler heads prevailed.

"It was already a physical game," said Carter. "It started
getting even more physical."

The Nets appeared headed for a blowout, opening a 72-46 early in
the third quarter.

Knicks coach Herb Williams called a time out, which seemed to
get the team's attention.

Marbury then scored 14 points, cutting the Nets' lead to 87-70
entering the final quarter. A 19-8 run to start the fourth quarter
cut the lead to 95-89 on two free throws by Marbury with 6:26 to
go.

A layup by Jerome Williams also had the Knicks within 97-91 with
5:35 to go.

Shortly after that, Kidd was flattened by Williams and it seemed
to motivate New Jersey.

"We talk about playoffs but we have to play like it," Carter
said. "It's got to come from your Captain. J (Jason) really
started it for us."

After missing 11 of their first 13 shots and falling behind by
eight, the Nets took advantage of the Knicks' lackluster defense
and hit 21 of their final 30 shots in the half in taking a 57-37
lead.

Kidd, who struggled early with his shooting touch, closed the
half making his final five shots, including an off-balance layup
that excited the crowd.

Game notes
Kidd's first assist in the third quarter gave him 7,212 for
his career, moving him in ninth place on the career list ahead of
Lenny Wilkens. ... New Jersey won the season series with New York
3-1, winning the final three games. ... Nets F Brian Scalabrine,
who has started the last three games, was poked in the right eye
late in the third quarter but came back in the fourth. ... Knicks F
Tim Thomas sat out the second half with a sore left knee.