EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Ron Artest tried to take the game from Jason Kidd, but Kidd took it back.
Kidd collected 31 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds and was magnificent down the stretch as the New Jersey Nets rallied for a 98-91 victory over the Indiana Pacers, who have lost a season-high three straight games.
After making a free throw, Artest stripped Kidd in the backcourt and went in for a layup that pulled the Pacers within 89-84 with 3:13 to go.
"It was kind of embarrassing," Kidd said.
"I haven't played against a point guard in so long," Artest said. "I had to get my timing back. I know how to guard a point guard. It is like a science."
Artest drew an offensive foul on Richard Jefferson at the other end, and Reggie Miller followed with a 3-pointer to make it a three-point game with 2:41 left.
Kidd responded with a driving layup, then drew contact from Artest before throwing in a lefthanded layup. His free throw completed the three-point play and gave the Nets a 94-86 lead with two minutes remaining.
Artest made a 3-pointer and Miller sank two free throws, again making it a three-point game with 49 seconds to play. But the teams traded empty possessions and Kidd sealed it with two free throws with 17 seconds left.
"I thought Kidd had an awesome game," Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "Everything the Nets needed, he was able to get them tonight. Whether it was rebounding, scoring or assists, Kidd got it going and they got into their open-court game."
Kidd made 10-of-16 shots and 9-of-10 free throws as he just missed his 49th career triple-double. Artest scored 10 of his 13 points in the final seven-plus minutes.
"It was one of those games you really want to be in," Kidd said. "It was the continuation of the rivalry. It was great. The game came at the right time for us. Being on national television, that probably heightened everything."
Kenyon Martin scored 19 points for the Nets (37-18), who tied the Pacers for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. After beating the Pacers in the first round of last year's playoffs, they have won both meetings this season.
"So many things are involved in a game with them," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "The tiebreaker situation, it's a big-time game. I knew it was going to be a playoff-type atmosphere. I knew the way they are going to play and I knew we were going to respond to it."
"It really is not a rivalry because they beat us twice," Artest said. "We have to beat them."
New Jersey native Al Harrington had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana, which has dropped the first three games of its four-game road trip.
Kidd's 3-pointer gave New Jersey an 85-76 lead with 5:41 to play before Artest went to work. He baited Jefferson into a technical foul, then made 1-of-2 free throws on consecutive possessions, running into a cameraman in between.
Kidd threw in a lefthanded bank shot before Miller drilled a 3-pointer, cutting the deficit to 87-81 with 3:55 left.
Harrington scored 18 points in the first half to help Indiana build a 55-45 lead. A basket by Jermaine O'Neal gave the Pacers their largest lead at 60-45 early in the third quarter.
But Artest sat down with his fourth foul, and the Nets used a zone defense to get back in the game. A jumper by Lucious Harris capped an 11-0 burst and gave New Jersey a 67-66 lead with 2:07 remaining.
"We wanted to take the rhythm out of their front line, plus Reggie was out of the game - their main 3-point threat," Scott said. "I felt it was a way to change it up a little bit. The only thing I was worried about was rebounding out of a zone, but we did a good job of rebounding and getting Jason down the floor."
"We stayed together as a team," Kidd said. "That just showed the maturity on one level, but also the confidence that we have in one another. When things didn't go right, nobody bailed."
Kidd sank the free throw after a technical foul on Artest with 6:55 to go. Harris followed with a layup set up by Kidd's penetration for an 82-74 lead.
"We had some foul trouble that we had to adjust to," Thomas said. "Once Kidd got it going and their transition game picked up, we just couldn't get back into it."
"They were down 15 points when I left the game," Artest said. "Then I got into foul trouble and they took the lead. I am thinking if I don't foul and I am in the game, we would win."
Harris scored 12 points and Kittles added 11 for the Nets, who shot 49 percent (35-of-71).
O'Neal and Brad Miller scored 18 points each and Reggie Miller added 14 for the Pacers, who shot 41 percent (34-of-83).
The Nets wore retro jerseys from their 1975-76 championship season in the ABA. They won two titles in the defunct league, while the Pacers won three.
"They need to bring them back," Kidd said.