CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Eddy Curry and the Chicago Bulls exposed the New Jersey Nets once again.
Curry scored five of his 24 points as the Bulls scored the game's final 14 points to rally for a 95-86 victory over the struggling Nets.
New Jersey stumbled once again on a night when the top four teams in the Eastern Conference stubbed their toes. The Nets (48-31) maintained their one-game lead atop the Atlantic Division thanks to Philadelphia's loss at New York and are tied atop the conference with Detroit, which lost at New Orleans.
A basket by Aaron Williams gave the Nets an 86-81 lead with 4:51 remaining. But New Jersey did not score as Chicago employed a zone defense and the youthful Bulls found their stride.
"This was our best win of the year," Bulls coach Bill Cartwright said. "It was our best win because a lot of teams in this league quit and we had every reason to quit. I will tell you, our guys were resilient."
Rookie Jay Williams nailed a jumper, Corie Blount split a pair at the line and Curry threw in a hook for an 86-86 tie with 3 1/2 minutes left. Jay Williams snuck inside for a layup that gave the Bulls the lead for good with 2:49 to go.
Jason Kidd committed a crucial turnover when he threw away a pass to Curry, who made 1-of-2 at the line with just under two minutes left. Kenyon Martin missed a contested jumper in the lane for New Jersey.
Jay Williams sliced through the defense and fed Curry for a dunk and a five-point cushion. Jamal Crawford came up with a steal and a dunk for a 93-86 advantage with 1:22 remaining that effectively sealed it.
"We played a great game," Curry said. "We finished the game well."
"We made too many bad decisions and turnovers at the end," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "If you're missing shots against the zone, they'll stay in it all night like they did."
This was the first game in which Jay Williams and Curry started together in the backcourt and the pairing paid dividends. Crawford had 19 points and seven assists and Williams, a New Jersey native, had 14 and seven.
"With our fast guys out there, we can make plays," Crawford said. "There is a lot of energy out there. guys feed off each other."
"I thought they did well," Cartwright said. "They had an opportunity. The big thing with those two in there is that we are able to get to the basket."
Martin scored 29 points to lead New Jersey, which dropped to 16-24 on the road. But Martin was part of a fourth-quarter flop that doomed the Nets to their second loss of the season in Chicago.
New Jersey shot 33 percent (6-of-18) and was outscored in the fourth, 29-16. Kidd and Richard Jefferson each played all 12 minutes and combined for four points - Kidd missed all six shots.
"The effort was there," Kidd said. "A couple of turnovers down the stretch and a couple of missed shots. That's just part of the game."
The Nets entered off a disheartening 97-92 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday in which Kidd called out his teammates for a poor effort. The team went through a practice that was described as "somber" on Thursday and came out and fell behind by 15 points in Friday's game.
A jumper by Jay Williams gave Chicago a 40-25 lead with 5:15 remaining before halftime. New Jersey pulled within 50-41 at halftime.
The Nets finally played some good basketball to start the second half and Martin's dunk capped a 9-2 tear that pulled them within 54-50 with nine minutes remaining. Martin's jumped ended a 12-2 spurt for New Jersey's biggest lead, 69-63, with 1:38 left to play in the third.
Chicago shot 26 percent (5-of-19) in the third quarter, but used Curry to rally in the fourth. Curry scored 10 points over the final 12 minutes and made 9-of-13 shots for the game, repeatedly taking advantage of Jason Collins and Dikembe Mutombo.
"It's frustrating to lose a game you know you should win like this one," Scott said. "We had it in hand and let it get away."
Jalen Rose scored 23 points, including a 3-of-3 performance from beyond the arc, and grabbed 10 rebounds for Chicago, which overcame 22 turnovers.
Jefferson scored 17 points, Kerry Kittles netted 13 and Kidd had 11 and 12 assists. But the quickness of Crawford was a problem all night for Kidd, who had six of the Nets' 20 turnovers.
"The sky's the limit for Jamal," Kidd said. "I told him to keep working at his game. It's just a matter of time and getting the experience out on the court."