for this game

Jefferson, Kidd help Nets hold off Hawks

Nov 7, 2007 - 5:23 AM By Carl Dispoto PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Richard Jefferson was nearly flawless again in a game that was filled with mistakes.

Jefferson scored 10 of his 25 points in the third quarter and Jason Kidd fell just shy of his second consecutive triple-double as the New Jersey Nets held on for an 87-82 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Jefferson led the Nets in scoring for the fourth time in as many games, making 8-of-15 shots from the floor and 9-of-10 free throws. He put on a rare display of offensive efficiency, as both teams shot less than 44 percent from the floor and combined for 38 turnovers.

"He's playing at an All-Star level," said Nets guard Vince Carter of Jefferson. "He has shown he definitely is All-Star caliber. He is playing some of his best basketball and we have to keep pushing him to play that style and ride it out. I'm definitely proud of him."

Kidd collected nine points, 12 assists and nine rebounds just two days after recording his 88th career triple-double in a victory at Philadelphia. But he also struggled at times,shooting 4-of-10 from the floor, 0-of-2 from the free-throw line and committed six of New Jersey's 18 turnovers.

Carter also continued his slow start to the season, scoring just 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting, and did not attempt a free throw in 36 minutes.

"It's not a concern," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. "The key is he works his tail off."

New Jersey relied on defense to make up for its offensive shortcomings, holding Atlanta to just 38 percent (26-of-68) from the floor. The Hawks also were just 23-of-32 from the line and committed 20 turnovers that led to 23 points for the Nets.

"The number one thing for us is we have to defend," Frank said. "As we progress we'll be better offensively, but the key is our defensive effort. Three of our four games we've been decent defensively but we still have to make great gains."

Atlanta nearly erased a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but again fell just short of finishing an impressive comeback against an Eastern Conference contender. The Hawks rallied from a seven-point deficit before suffering a 92-91 loss to Detroit on Sunday.

"We can't keep putting ourselves in this position," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "When you are on the road and have a chance to win games, you have to do everything down the stretch the right way and we just didn't do that."

Josh Childress scored 18 points off the bench and Josh Smith had 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists, five steals and four blocks for the Hawks, who have lost two straight after an impressive season-opening victory at Dallas.

Joe Johnson finished with 15 points after battling early foul trouble and Marvin Williams added 13, but he was held scoreless in the second half.

The Nets took control late in the third quarter and had a 73-59 advantage with 10:39 to go in the game. But Smith nailed a pair of 3-pointers during a 13-2 run to bring the Hawks within 77-75 at the 5:05 mark.

Despite his struggles, Carter came through with a huge basket when he drove for a baseline dunk on the next possession - one of his few easy attempts against Atlanta's athletic defense.

"The baseline was open and I just wanted to try to see what happens," Carter said. "I just kept going and the rim was in front of me and I said, 'I think I can make this.'"

Antoine Wright, who scored 15 points, followed with a layup to give the Nets some breathing room, but the Hawks did not go quietly.

Johnson's 3-pointer with 39 seconds left got Atlanta within 85-82, but Wright sealed the outcome when he passed up a 3-pointer from the left wing and drove between Childress and rookie Acie Law for a layup with 16 seconds remaining.

"We gave up too many layups and it puts too much pressure on our offense," Woodson said. "I can't fault our effort. Our effort has been pretty solid but we're giving up too many big plays in crucial situations that are costing us."

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