EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After spending a large part of the season giving away games late, the New Jersey Nets are starting to win them with defense, a trend they hope leads to a playoff berth.
"The third quarter defensively we weren't where we needed to be," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "Yet at winning time, we were able to turn it up a notch. You had two teams in the exact same situation. There was the same level of urgency. This is the way it's going to be the rest of the season. This is a good example of how, by defending, you can win a game shooting 42 percent."
Vince Carter added 22 points and Richard Jefferson had 18 points and 12 rebounds to help the Nets win for the third time in four games and remain in a playoff position with 15 games left in the regular season.
"For some reason we just haven't been doing it in the fourth quarter this season," said Kidd, who iced the game with four free throws in the final 18.5 seconds. "There is no better time to start than now because of the importance of every game."
Center Mikki Moore scored seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, including five from the free-throw line. New Jersey was 14-for-19 from the line in the quarter.
It was a statistic that didn't sit well with Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, who was miffed that forward Elton Brand got to the foul line twice in the game.
"Obviously he must not have any kind of game, because every other star in this league gets to the free-throw line, but since he can't get there anymore maybe he's lost his game," Dunleavy said. "I don't know. As many times as he touches the ball, he's got to get to the free-throw line more for us."
Cuttino Mobley, who beat the Nets with a 3-pointer in January, scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half to lead Los Angeles, which lost for the sixth time in seven games to hurt its playoff chances. Maggette added 23 points, while Brand had 15 of his 17 in the second half.
In a game in which neither team led by more than eight points, New Jersey took the lead for good at 82-80 on a pair of free throws by Bostjan Nachbar with 5:49 to play.
The Nets appeared to take control when Nachbar later took a pass from Kidd after a wild scramble for a loose ball and slammed home a basket for an 88-82 edge with 4:18 to play.
The Clippers responded with a 7-2 spurt and drew to 90-89 with 2:48 to go on Mobley's fifth 3-pointer of the game, his last basket.
After Moore hit two free throws on the Nets' next possession to push the lead to 92-89, Maggette made a horrible mistake and threw the ball into the backcourt for a turnover.
Moore added another free throw on the Nets' next possession and Maggette then lost the ball on a drive down the lane for his seventh turnover.
"Again, our turnovers definitely hurt us," Dunleavy said. "I think other than that we had a little bit better cushion. We played a lot of good minutes on this trip. We haven't shown the W's for it."
A free throw by Jefferson gave New Jersey a 94-89 lead with 1:38 to go and Los Angeles never got closer than three points the rest of the way as Kidd put the game away from the foul line.
The game had a scary moment with about 8:35 left in the fourth quarter when Quinton Ross was elbowed in the face by Vince Carter as the Nets guard went up for a shot. Ross lay on the court for a couple of minutes before being helped to the locker room. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion and did not return.
- Nets F Clifford Robinson sat out the game with a knee injury. He is day to day.
- Referee Dan Crawford showed a lot of patience in the third quarter by not calling a technical on Maggette after he slammed the ball down after his fourth foul.
- Brand and Maggette each had nine rebounds for Los Angeles.
- Kidd hit 5-of-6 shots in the first quarter and scored 13 points.