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Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2002 12:05 AM EST
NBA RECAP
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New Jersey 105, Portland 104
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Portland Trail Blazers
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NEW JERSEY NETS
New Jersey Nets
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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Jason Kidd usually is the one handing out assists for the New Jersey Nets, but he got a big one from teammate Rodney Rogers.

Kidd scored 27 points and dished out 12 assists but missed two crucial free throws before Rogers bailed him out with a steal in the final second of the Nets' 105-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland trailed most of the way but managed to climb back from a 10-point deficit and pull within 103-101 on Rasheed Wallace's 3-pointer with 32 seconds left.

Kidd then missed a 3-pointer, followed by two free throws with 11 seconds left, but Rogers stole an inbounds pass intended for Arvydas Sabonis and New Jersey hung on for its sixth straight home win and fourth in a row overall.

"Who would have predicted that Jason would miss both free throws? Both shots went in and out," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "But then Rodney came in and did a great job and got a great steal. I guess you could say that tonight, the game bounced our way."

Ruben Patterson scored 26 points for the Blazers, who had a three-game road winning streak snapped.

Richard Jefferson did it all for New Jersey, scoring 22 points and setting career highs with 15 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Lucious Harris contributed 21 points for the Nets, who shot 50 percent (42-of-82) from the floor.

"This was, without a doubt, Richard's best game," Scott said. "R.J. was all over the floor. He was rebounding the ball, scoring, playing good defense, blocking shots and getting steals. He did everything tonight; he had a career night."

The Trail Blazers were coming off a victory over Washington on Tuesday and were playing the third game of a five-game road swing.

After a jumper by Kidd made it 101-91 with 3:20 to go, Portland came alive. Bonzi Wells got things started with an eight-footer and Damon Stoudamire drained a 3-pointer. Patterson and Jefferson exchanged buckets and Wallace hit from long range to cut the deficit to 103-101.

After Kidd's misses, Portland inbounded in the front court and Rogers stole Derek Anderson's pass and found Lucious Harris, who was fouled and hit two free throws. Stoudamire's desperation heave accounted for the final score.

"We tried to get the ball into Sabonis and have Derek Anderson turn the corner. We did not need the 3, we just wanted someone to go to the basket," Portland coach Mo Cheeks said. "Rodney Rogers just got his hand on the ball and caused the turnover."

"It is a play that works nine out of 10 times. I got excited and probably rushed the pass," Anderson said.

The victory put the Nets in a tie with Philadelphia atop the Atlantic Division and matched their longest winning streak of the season.

Wallace was held to just seven points while Scottie Pippen scored 16 and Wells added 13 as the Blazers shot 43 percent (38-of-88) from the field and hit 21-of-31 foul shots.

"They play hard," Harris said. "They have a good team over there - one through 12. We knew they were going to make a run. We didn't think they were going to lay down and take the loss."

Portland stayed close throughout most of the first half before the Nets pulled away in the final minutes.

Following a dunk by Wallace that pulled the Blazers within 38-35 with 6:40 left, New Jersey went on a 13-3 run. Rogers had five points and Harris four in the burst, which was capped by Harris' jumper with 3:58 to go.

Kidd had 17 points and Harris 12 in the first half.


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