86 - 100 Final
  for this game

Nets' star trio eliminate Knicks from playoff contention

Apr 14, 2007 - 5:55 AM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The big three clarified the Eastern Conference playoff picture, sending the New Jersey Nets to the playoffs while the New York Knicks were sent packing.

Jason Kidd collected 13 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists and Vince Carter scored 25 points as the Nets advanced to their sixth straight postseason and mathematically eliminated the Knicks with a 100-86 victory.

Richard Jefferson added 24 point for New Jersey (38-41), which won for the seventh time in its last 10 games to move 1 1/2 games ahead of eighth-place Orlando (36-42) but just two behind Washington (40-39) for the sixth spot in the crowded Eastern Conference.

The Nets were thrust into a playoff spot when Indiana lost at Miami later Friday night. Battling for the final playoff spot for most of the season, New York suffered a rash of injuries to key contributors en route to losing 13 of its last 16 games to fall out of playoff contention.

It has been the culmination of a challenging regular season for New Jersey, which has been plagued by injuries. Starting center Nenad Krstic tore his left ACL and Jefferson missed nearly 30 games with multiple ailments.

"At one point the playoffs for us seemed far-fetched in a lot of peoples' minds," Carter said. "As bad as we seemed some nights, we still had our goal of making the playoffs."

"We've been a quiet, confident team throughout," Jefferson said. "We felt confident we were going to be in the playoffs. We knew we'd be right where we've been for the last six years. We have as much adversity as any team in this league, you just have to find a way to overcome it."

After getting dismantled in the third quarter in Thursday's loss at Cleveland, New Jersey turned the table on New York. Trailing, 47-44, at halftime, the Nets outscored the Knicks, 40-21, in the third - shooting 14-of-19 from the floor, including 6-of-8 on 3-pointers.

"They came out and had a lot of firepower in the third," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "We just didn't have enough to keep up with them."

Carter scored 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the period and Kidd, who was scoreless at halftime, made all of four of his shots en route to 10 points. Kidd completed his 87th career triple-double with an assist on Bostjan Nachbar's 3-pointer at 2:20, which gave New Jersey a 79-64 cushion.

"I thought we needed more energy," Kidd said. "We felt the tempo of the game wasn't at our pace. So, the second half we felt we could get it going."

"We were a different team in the third quarter," Carter said. "We knew we had to step up our game because they had more energy than we did in the first half."

Jefferson made five 3-pointers and Kidd and Nachbar added three each for the Nets, who buried 16 shots from the arc just three games after nailing a franchise-record 17 against Washington last Saturday.

New Jersey has won 21 of the last 25 meetings with New York and is 19-4 against the Knicks since acquiring Kidd, who has a career-high 12 triple-doubles this season.

"They were on the schedule," Kidd said. "Nobody is celebrating that we knocked the Knicks out. We got a much-needed win."

Steve Francis had 22 points and seven assists and rookie Mardy Collins scored a season-high 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Knicks, who have not made the playoffs since the 2003-04 season.

"It's always disappointing when you lose," Thomas said. "But I am proud of the guys for the way they have been competing. We've got three games left. We'll keep working, we'll keep competing."

Eddy Curry had 20 points and seven rebounds for injury-plagued New York, which was without forwards David Lee and rookie Renaldo Balkman. Stephon Marbury was in uniform but did not play due to a sprained toe.

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