Saturday , Feb , 21 , 0200 C.Y. Ellis

Nets open homestand against Hornets

(Sports Network) – The New Jersey Nets open up a five-game homestand this
evening when they welcome the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets to the
Continental Airlines Arena.

However, the big question for the Nets is how many of those games star guard
Jason Kidd will play in.

Kidd, the recent subject of trade rumors, has missed New Jersey’s last two
games because of a strained lower back that also kept him out of the All-Star
Game. He is questionable for tonight’s game.

However, New Jersey’s rumored attempts to deal Kidd, who is averaging 14.3
points, eight rebounds and 8.7 assists per game, may lead it to keep him out
of the lineup again tonight.

The Nets come out of the All-Star break 4 1/2 games behind the Toronto Raptors
for the lead in the Atlantic Division. Those same Raptors sent the Nets into
the break on a losing note after handing New Jersey a 120-109 loss last
Wednesday.

Bostjan Nachbar poured in a career-best 26 points and also grabbed eight
rebounds while Eddie House and Marcus Williams chipped 19 points apiece for
the Nets, who have lost two in a row. Vince Carter had 17 points, 10 assists
and six rebounds in the loss, the sixth in nine games for New Jersey.

Carter did play in the exhibition tilt, and had seven points in the East’s
153-132 setback.

New Jersey is 14-13 as the host this year and is currently two games out of a
playoff spot. It will also host Sacramento, New York, Washington and Boston on
the current stand.

The Nets have had recent success against the Hornets, having won six straight
and eight of the last 11 in the series. They have also won three in a row at
home.

New Jersey swept a pair of meetings last year with New Orleans, which hasn’t
captured a victory over the Nets since November of 2003. This is the first
meeting between the clubs this year.

The Hornets, though, have been having success against the rest of the NBA.
However, they came out of the break on Tuesday and suffered a 104-100 loss to
Charlotte, just the club’s fourth defeat in its last 13 games.

Despite the setback, New Orleans is just one-half game behind Minnesota for
the eighth playoff spot in the West.

Chris Paul scored 20 points and tallied seven assists for the Hornets, while
Tyson Chandler finished with 16 points and 20 boards. Desmond Mason added 17
points with six boards, and David West scored 16 points and racked in seven
boards.

Paul represented the Hornets in the battle between the NBA’s freshman and
sophomore stars. The second-year Wake Forest product tallied 16 points with 17
assists and nine steals in the sophomore’s 115-114 victory.

Tonight’s tilt is the second of back-to-back road games for New Orleans, which
has lost three of its last four on the road and is just 8-18 as the visitor.
The team returns home on Friday to host Seattle.

NJN NOH