ATLANTA -- Vince Carter couldn't bear the thought of a fifth straight loss.
"At this point in the season for us, the way things are going, we can't make excuses," Carter said. "Every basket for us counts and every situation counts."
Carter made the go-ahead layup with 7.6 seconds remaining and grabbed a critical rebound on Atlanta's final possession as the New Jersey Nets stopped a four-game losing streak with an 87-85 victory over the Hawks on Wednesday night.
After missing a long 3-point attempt that ended an overtime loss at Philadelphia two nights before, Carter beat Joe Johnson to the basket and avoided pressure from Josh Childress and Jeremy Richardson to give New Jersey an 86-85 lead in the closing seconds.
"Maybe I should let the clock run down and get the last shot," Carter said when asked to explain his move from the top of the key. "I thought, 'Forget it, go attack it, see what happens. If I miss it, maybe we can get a putback or something.'"
The Hawks, who have lost two straight and three of four, failed to repeat their performance on Sunday at the Meadowlands, where Tyronn Lue's 23-footer at the buzzer sealed a 101-99 victory over the Nets.
This time, Richardson, a rookie signed to his second 10-day contract earlier in the day, missed a 20-footer that Carter grabbed to preserve the victory with 0.1 seconds left.
"It just didn't fall for me," Richardson said.
Carter ended the game by hitting one of two free throws.
With Johnson unable to break free from a double-team, Hawks coach Mike Woodson had no second thoughts about Richardson's final shot along the right baseline.
"The young kid got a great look at it," Woodson said. "He just missed a good shot. The game wasn't lost there, though. We lost the game in the third quarter, when we were very lethargic."
Kidd accidentally gave away the lead with 14 seconds remaining. As he tried to box out Johnson, Kidd used his left hand to tip the ball in the air. Instead of pulling down the ball, Kidd watched it glance off the backboard and into the basket to give the Hawks an 85-84 lead.
Following two straight overtime defeats, Kidd was pleased that the Nets avoided a collapse.
"I've never been a part of a team that played, on a consistent basis, one-point games," Kidd said. "When I tipped that ball in I thought it was just not going to be our time again."
Willliams gave a rare display of emotion after missing a layup from the baseline and converting a three-point play with 2:11 left. He was just 1-for-10 when he hit an 18-footer with four minutes remaining to cut the lead to 77-72.
Coming off a scoreless night against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, Williams was at his best from the free-throw line, hitting all 13 attempts.
"It's always tough to lose, no matter how you lose it," said Williams, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2005. "We all felt we'd
win the game."
Carter, who answered Williams' jumper with a runner with 3:39 remaining, took Kidd's alley-oop pass from the top of the key for a
spectacular baseline dunk that made it 84-81 with 1:56 remaining.
After failing to score on the next two possessions, including a failed dunk attempt on his own putback, Carter banked in the winning layup.
"It just shows you his determination," Kidd said. "He wasn't going to just settle [for anything less]. We didn't panic because we've been in this situation on a consistent basis. All we needed was for someone to step up and knock down a shot so we could go home with a win."
Nets forward Richard Jefferson did not make the trip, staying home to continue rehabbing his right ankle. Since Jefferson underwent arthroscopic surgery on Jan. 22, the Nets are 3-7. ... Hawks rookie forward Shelden Williams missed the game with the flu. ... In their previous trip to Philips Arena last March 31, the Nets won their 11th straight game and clinched a sixth consecutive playoff berth.