LOS ANGELES -- The New Jersey Nets have taken to heart Jason Kidd's comments about the team's desire to win.
There was no giving in against Los Angeles on Sunday night.
During New Jersey's recent six-game losing streak, Kidd was quoted in New York papers as saying that the Nets have a habit of "letting go of the rope," and playing with a "glass jaw."
Apparently, his teammates got the message. They've won three straight.
"J. Kidd said it best. I wouldn't even disagree when he said our team has a 'glass jaw' about a week ago," Richard Jefferson said. "Teams would hit and we would just fall down. But I think guys have stepped up and taken the challenge, and we're showing more fight."
"Every time the captain speaks up, the guys know it's a wakeup call for you," Nachbar said. "It was for me, and since then, everybody has stepped up."
Bryant made 15 consecutive free throws before missing a clutch foul shot with 6.1 seconds to go. The two-time defending NBA scoring champ started out 3-for-16 from the field, going the entire second and third quarters without a basket. His next one came on a layup with 6:13 to play. But during his drought, New Jersey had turned a 14-point deficit into an 85-72 lead with a 16-3 run.
"They were on Kobe really well and they made it difficult for him," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I thought that most of his shots were challenged. They stayed down on his pump fakes and he didn't get any rhythm in his shots."
Both teams blew double-digit leads. Carter triggered the Nets' pivotal rally, hitting a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left in the third quarter to tie it 72.
The Nets took their first lead of the game 24 seconds into the fourth on Nachbar's layup, and Jefferson capped the run on a layup that gave New Jersey an 84-74 lead with 8:39 remaining.
"The first half was a little bit lackadaisical, and there were probably just a couple of guys playing at a higher speed," said Kidd, who had eight turnovers. "But in the second half, I think everybody pitched in. Defensively is where I thought we turned the game around."
Bryant made a three-point play and a pair of 3-point baskets, all in a 55-second span, and Sasha Vujacic followed with another 3-pointer -- his only points of the game -- to give the Lakers a 96-94 edge with 1:28 left. But the Nets still managed to come out on top.
"We didn't execute properly at the start of the fourth quarter," Bryant said. "They jumped out to a huge lead on us, and it was an uphill battle for that point on."
The Nets had a three-point lead when Bryant was fouled by Kidd behind the 3-point line on an inbounds play. He sank the first two free throws, but missed the third and Nachbar got the rebound. He made one of two at the other end after getting fouled immediately by Luke Walton, and Vladimir Radmanovic missed an attempted tying 3-point shot at the buzzer.
"Our guys showed great grit in the second half," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said after his 300th game as an NBA head coach. "Jason kind of spearheaded it with his pick-and-roll attack, spreading them out some, and Vince hit some big shots. Our guys didn't break, and it's a quality road win."
Derek Fisher, who had 20 points, helped Los Angeles build a 49-37 halftime lead by going 5-for-5 from the field -- with all of his shots coming from at least 18 feet out with Kidd guarding him. The Lakers took their biggest lead, 47-33, on Lamar Odom's 3-pointer with 3:14 left in the second quarter.
The Nets finished 3-1 on the road trip, only the third time in the franchise's NBA history that they had a winning record on their annual Thanksgiving trip. They were 3-2 in 1998-99 and 3-1 in 1992-93. Since Kidd's arrival in 2001-02, they have gone a combined 11-21 during their Thanksgiving trips, including 0-4 last season.
|It's a fight to the finish, but Richard Jefferson's Nets snag the win away from the Lakers. (AP)|
|New Jersey (7-7) «||18||19||35||30||102|
|L.A. Lakers (7-6)||26||23||23||28||100|
|NJ:R. Jefferson 27 Pts
NJ:J. Kidd 7 Reb
NJ:J. Kidd 14 Ast
|LAL:K. Bryant 31 Pts
LAL:A. Bynum 13 Reb
LAL:K. Bryant 7 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|Los Angeles||New Jersey|
|J. Kidd, PG||41||5-15||3-4||7||14||3||15|
|R. Jefferson, SF||41||8-17||11-17||5||3||4||27|
|A. Wright, SF||36||2-8||3-4||3||1||5||7|
|M. Allen, PF||18||4-6||0-0||3||1||1||8|
|J. Collins, C||8||0-0||0-0||3||0||1||0|
|S. Williams, PF||30||3-6||0-0||7||0||3||6|
|V. Carter, SG||25||6-8||6-8||4||2||4||19|
|B. Nachbar, SF||23||5-12||5-8||3||3||3||15|
|J. Boone, PF||10||1-1||0-0||3||0||1||2|
|E. Gill, SG||7||1-2||0-0||3||2||0||3|
|D. Armstrong, PG||Did Not Play|
|J. Magloire, C||Did Not Play|
|N. Krstic, C||Did Not Play|
|M. Williams, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|K. Bryant, SG||41||7-21||15-16||3||7||3||31|
|L. Odom, PF||38||5-6||5-8||3||1||6||16|
|A. Bynum, C||36||5-7||2-6||13||1||3||12|
|D. Fisher, PG||29||8-10||2-2||4||3||3||20|
|V. Radmanovic, SF||24||0-10||1-2||0||2||1||1|
|L. Walton, SF||20||1-5||1-2||3||1||2||3|
|J. Farmar, PG||19||1-5||0-0||4||4||0||2|
|S. Vujacic, SG||14||1-2||0-0||1||0||4||3|
|R. Turiaf, PF||8||2-5||2-2||1||0||2||6|
|T. Ariza, SF||7||1-1||0-0||1||0||1||2|
|C. Mihm, C||4||2-2||0-0||4||0||0||4|
|K. Brown, C||Did Not Play|
|J. Crittenton, PG||Did Not Play|
|C. Karl, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|