Nets continue to struggle at home as Clippers close out win

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Beset by injuries and unable to buy a win in recent weeks, the Los Angeles Clippers took advantage of a team that appears to be in even worse straits.

Chris Kaman and Tim Thomas both scored 18 points and Kaman grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Clippers past the Nets 91-82 on Tuesday night for their first win in New Jersey in nearly 10 years.

How low have the Nets sunk? They have lost eight of their last nine games at home, and couldn't beat a Clippers team missing its star (Elton Brand) and its most experienced guard (Sam Cassell).

Richard Jefferson led the Nets with 21 points but was 6-for-21 from the field. New Jersey shot 32 percent (26-for-81), which included an abysmal 5-for-25 in the fourth quarter.

"This is a veteran ballclub and we've just got to stay together," Nets point guard Jason Kidd said when asked if it was time for drastic measures. "Fits have already been thrown. We're trying to find a way, trying to find anything to get us going in the right direction."

They would do well to take a page from the Clippers' play book Tuesday, particularly on the defensive end where they clamped down in the second half.

"We gave up a lot of second-chance points in the first half, but in the second half our defense and boxing out was a lot better," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said.

Los Angeles got significant contributions from its bench, led by Dan Dickau's 11 points. Dickau's 3-pointer with 8 minutes left in the game gave the Clippers a 76-68 lead, and New Jersey never got closer than five points after that.

The Clippers' last win at New Jersey came on Jan. 15, 1998, a span of eight games. Los Angeles had lost eight of its last nine games as it muddles along without Brand, who is still recovering from an Achilles' tendon injury suffered in August.

"You lose 25 points and 10 rebounds a game and you've got to make it up somehow, and we haven't been doing a very good job of it lately," Kaman said.

Kaman has picked up the slack admirably, averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds this season, well above his career marks.

On Tuesday Kaman was 8-for-14 from the field and was too much to handle for Nets centers Jason Collins and Josh Boone around the basket.

New Jersey took a 54-49 lead midway through the third quarter, its biggest of the game, before Ruben Patterson and Thomas led a 16-5 run to put the Clippers back ahead for good.

The Nets' low point came in the final minutes when Vince Carter shot an airball on a 3-point attempt with New Jersey trailing 81-74, drawing loud boos from the half-filled arena.

"We have to keep our confidence regardless," said Carter, who had 16 points but shot 5-for-17. "We just have to stay focused and hope it gets better."

Game notes
Clippers G Quinton Ross suffered a lower back contusion after hitting the floor in the third period and did not return ... Nets backup PG Marcus Williams, who has missed the entire season with a broken foot, took part in the morning shootaround and pronounced himself ready to resume full practicing by Thursday. Nets coach Lawrence Frank did not say how long it would be before Williams would be ready to play ... Nets C Nenad Krstic said he has not experienced swelling in his surgically repaired left knee in the last week. Krstic tore his ACL last Dec. 22 and had surgery on Jan. 10. He played in the first 12 games this season before being shut down ... Cassell missed his seventh straight game with a calf strain and isn't expected to play on Los Angeles' four-game road trip ... Injuries have forced the Clippers to use 11 starting lineups this season. The Nets have used eight ... Thomas and Brevin Knight, who were both in the starting lineup, played for separate high schools within 20 miles of the Izod Center.

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