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A win and a loss

Nets beat Hawks but lose Williams to broken leg

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Posted: Friday April 02, 1999 10:23 AM

  Jayson Williams (left) collided with teammate Stephon Marbury under the basket with less than a minute left in the game. AP

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Even when they win, the New Jersey Nets lose.

Stephon Marbury and Keith Van Horn helped the Nets overcome a 14-point second-half deficit to beat the Atlanta Hawks 90-85 Thursday night, but All-Star center Jayson Williams broke his right leg and will miss the rest of the season.

Williams, who signed a six-year, $90 million contract before the season, was admitted to Hackensack Medical Center, where he will undergo more tests on Friday.

"It's like a soap opera," forward Kendall Gill said after the Nets won for just the sixth time in 30 games. "It seems like even when everything is going right, something still goes wrong. It's like we are snakebit."

Williams was hurt with 50.9 seconds left after slamming his right leg into Marbury's back seconds after Marbury hit a floater in the lane to give New Jersey an 87-83 lead. It was a collision of players going in different directions, with Williams looking to crash the boards from the right wing and Marbury falling backward toward the sidelines.

Both players lay on the court for a couple of minutes and play wasn't stopped until Atlanta's Dikembe Mutombo was fouled at the other on a rebound eight seconds later.

"I just got the wind knocked out of me," said Marbury, who scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half. "I got kneed in the back. He didn't get my head. I think it was his knee. But whatever it was, it did not look good."

As teammates crowded around the players, Marbury's mother, Mabel, came on the court visibly upset and hugged her son. Williams, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds, was in obvious pain and had to be helped off the court by his teammates.

"That's the way it's been going all year," Nets guard Kerry Kittles said. "We faced adversity all season. Tonight we played our hearts out and now we lost our emotional leader."

Van Horn, returning to the lineup after missing two games with a sprained ankle, had 24. He also made a key defensive stop on Grant Long's drive in the closing seconds with New Jersey up 87-85.

Chris Carr added two free throws with 4.7 seconds left after an apparent steal and basket by Mookie Blaylock was nullified by a foul against Anthony Johnson on the inbounds play.

"That wasn't a foul, it was a silly pass," Johnson said after Atlanta lost its second straight and the season series to the Nets, 2-1.

Blaylock and Mutombo each had 14 points, while Mutombo also had 17 rebounds. The Hawks played almost the entire second half without star Steve Smith, who left the court with a dislocated kneecap. Smith said he planned to have an MRI on the knee.

"They did some things they needed to do down the stretch," Long said of the Nets. "Making no excuses, we lost a lot of our offense when Steve went out. Anytime a guy like him goes out, you have to reroute the way you are going to work things and we didn't come up with a solution until late in the game."

The Hawks hit 8 of their first 11 shots, jumped to a 17-8 lead and remained in control until the Nets closed the third quarter with a 27-8 spurt that featured 14 points by Van Horn and eight by Marbury.

New Jersey stretched its lead to 75-67 early in the fourth quarter but the Hawks used a 12-2 run to take a 79-77 lead on two free throws by Mutombo with 5:14.

Gill then sandwiched two jumpers around a layup by Marbury to give the Nets an 83-79 lead. The Hawks got within two points three times, but never closer.

Notes: Williams and referee Dick Bavetta compared broken noses before the opening tap. ... Refs Derrick Stafford and Bill Kennedy walked on the court wearing breathing stripes over their noses before the game. They took them off before the start. ... Jamie Feick signed a second 10-day contract with the Nets before the game. ... The Hawks were only called for 11 fouls and the Nets shot a season-low 10 free throws.

 
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Stephon Marbury's mother helps out her son after colliding with Jayson Williams.
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