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New York vs
91 - 93
Record: 29-42
Kidd reaching for Marbury's ball (AP Photo)
Kidd reaching for Marbury's ball (AP Photo)
NEW YORK (AP) -- Jason Kidd swore he never even looked at the out-of-town scoreboard, while Vince Carter claimed to be completely ignorant of where the New Jersey Nets stood in the Eastern Conference standings.

The truthfulness of those statements may seem questionable, but there was no doubt afterward where the Nets stand -- a half-game out of eighth place in the conference, the cutoff point for a postseason berth.

Getting 31 points from Carter and winning for the eighth time in 10 games, New Jersey passed Orlando in the standings and moved a game closer to Philadelphia with a 93-91 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night.

Both the 76ers and Magic lost, and those final scores were posted on the out-of-town scoreboard by the time this game entered the fourth quarter.

"I didn't have time to (look at the Magic and 76ers scores)," Kidd said. "I was too busy trying to get my 3-pointers off. I was being a two-guard tonight."

Carter reached 30 points for the 19th time in 48 games since New Jersey acquired him from Toronto, Kidd added 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists, and Clifford Robinson contributed 12 points and a hand in the face of Tim Thomas that altered his potential game-winning 3-pointer just before the final buzzer.

The Nets will play the Magic on Saturday night and have one game remaining against Philadelphia on April 17.

So despite an offseason roster overhaul, a season-ending injury to Richard Jefferson and a blockbuster trade, New Jersey is on the cusp of getting to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.

"All I know is that coach said we won, and two teams we needed to lose lost," Carter said.

Stephon Marbury led New York with 26 points, and Jamal Crawford had 23.

The Knicks had a chance to win, but Thomas' straightaway 3-pointer was way long, hitting above the box on the backboard and ricocheting hard off the rim as time expired. Thomas finished 2-for-12 as the Knicks lost their fifth in a row.

"If I don't contest that, he's got time to sit there and tee that up and maybe knock that down," Robinson said. "He had to shoot it high. You could see how high it came off the backboard."

Robinson's 3-pointer put the Nets up 78-75 with 7:48 left, and New Jersey remained ahead the rest of the way.

Carter hit a huge 3-pointer from 26 feet away as the shot clock was expiring with 2:43 left for an 89-85 lead, and Kidd's layup off a turnover by Marbury made it 93-87 with 1:20 left. A pair of foul shots by Marbury, a missed 3-pointer by Jacque Vaughn and a putback by Kurt Thomas cut the Nets' lead to 93-91 with 30.1 seconds left.

New Jersey used up the entire shot clock before taking its next attempt, and Nenad Krstic was called for basket interference for tipping Carter's shot as it was still bouncing on the rim. That gave the Knicks 5.1 seconds to go for the tie or the win.

They chose the latter, but Thomas couldn't convert.

"We've been in so many close games and let them slip away. I don't even know how many it is now," Thomas said. "It could have been a season changed if we could have won a couple of those. Luck is not on our side, I guess."

Marbury stole the ball and banked in a 40-footer to end the first quarter, completing a 14-2 run and giving the Knicks a 23-18 lead. New Jersey came back and led 43-42 at halftime, and Carter had 13 points in the third quarter as the game stayed close, the Nets trailing 66-65 entering the final period.

Notes
New Jersey has won 18 of the past 21 meeting between the clubs, including last year's playoffs. ... New Jersey went just 15-for-25 at the foul line. Krstic was 0-for 3, and Kidd was 1-for-3.

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