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Updated: Tuesday, December 17, 2002 11:50 PM EST
NBA RECAP
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New York 101, New Jersey 99
NEW JERSEY NETS
New Jersey Nets
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NEW YORK KNICKS
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NEW YORK (Ticker) -- The New York Knicks reclaimed the basketball spotlight in the metropolitan area for one night.

Allan Houston scored 25 of his 29 points in the second half and made a clutch runner with 36 seconds remaining as the Knicks held on for a 101-99 victory over the New Jersey Nets.

New York had lost six straight meetings with New Jersey, which has been the dominant team in the area since the start of last season.

But the Knicks used their trademark defense and clutch shooting down the stretch to beat the Nets for the first time since February 16, 2001.

"Any win helps morale, but this was a big win against a great team," New York coach Don Chaney said. "I mean it when I say a great team. I think New Jersey is a great team. It's a big morale boost for us."

Both teams had engaged in trash talking over the last few days, with New Jersey flaunting its success over struggling New York. But the Knicks backed up the talk, led by Houston, who was unstoppable in the final 24 minutes.

"This game was a big win for us. This was an attitude game and we wanted this one," he said. "We have to keep up this intensity if we want to make a run at the playoffs because we cannot play a good game like this and then later on lose that intensity."

"We beat a pretty good team - Eastern Conference champions, the rivalry," New York guard Latrell Sprewell said. "With all these things put together, this was a big win for our team tonight."

The Nets led by as many as 10 points in the second half but were clinging to a 95-93 lead on Lucious Harris's turnaround jumper with 2:35 left. Kurt Thomas responded with consecutive jumpers to give the Knicks a 97-95 lead at 77 seconds.

New Jersey forged the sixth tie of the fourth quarter on Jason Kidd's acrobatic layup with 54 seconds remaining. But Houston responded with a tough runner in the lane to give New York the lead for good.

Clarence Weatherspoon made 1-of-2 free throws and - after Kidd buried a pair of from the line - Thomas also split two foul shots for a 101-99 edge with 18 seconds to play.

Kidd was long on a fallaway jumper at the other end and Richard Jefferson missed an open follow. The Nets missed several chances at the offensive rebound as time expired.

"I had a good look and we had a chance to win," Kidd said. "I took the shot, making sure we had enough time for a tip-in. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't."

"They got too many opportunities in the second half and outhustled us down the stretch," New Jersey coach Byron Scott said. "We have to play better overall and better on the road."

Kidd was a one-man show with a season-high 39 points and 11 assists. He made 10-of-19 shots from the floor and 17-of-19 free throws but had little help down the stretch.

The All-Star point guard scored 14 of New Jersey's 24 points in the fourth quarter, including 11 of the final 13.

Kenyon Martin added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets but did not score in the final 15 minutes.

New Jersey continued to struggle on the road, where it has lost three straight and eight of 12 this season.

"We have been struggling on the road lately and we have to start playing better if we want to get back to where we were last year," said Jefferson, who had eight points and 11 rebounds.

Thomas scored 17 points and Howard Eisley added 12 for the Knicks, who made 10-of-17 3-pointers to overcome shooting just 9-of-13 from the line.

Othella Harrington and Weatherspoon had 13 rebounds apiece to help New York to a 49-44 edge on the glass.

The Nets led by as many as seven in the first half and had a 54-49 edge at halftime.

The teams traded baskets to open the third quarter before New Jersey reeled off seven straight points to take its largest lead at 63-53 on a dunk by Jefferson with 8:14 to go.

Houston answered with nine consecutive points to spark a 19-6 run. Sprewell buried back-to-back 3-pointers before Eisley capped the spurt with a 21-foot jumper for a 72-69 lead at 2:33.

"(Houston) got into a rhythm at the right time and that changed the whole game around," Scott said.


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