Tuesday , Apr , 10 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Nets top Wizards; Washington clinches playoff spot

Washington, DC (Sports Network) – Richard Jefferson scored a season-high 35
points and Jason Kidd’s tip-in with 30 seconds left gave the Nets the lead, as
New Jersey rallied to beat Washington, 96-92, on a night in which the Wizards
lost their fifth straight game, but still clinched a playoff spot.

Vince Carter scored 31 points, hitting all 13 of his free throws for the Nets,
who won for the fourth time in five contests and moved a game ahead of Orlando
for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Our guys did a great job executing down the stretch,” Nets coach Lawrence
Frank said. “It was a quality win for us. Both teams fought really hard
tonight. I’m happy Washington qualified for the playoffs. I feel horrible that
they are playing without their two All-Stars, but have guys who are very
capable of stepping up.”

Antawn Jamison had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards, who moved into
the postseason minutes before their game went final when Indiana lost, 90-86,
at Philadelphia. Darius Songaila had a season-best 19 points for Washington,
which continues to suffer from injuries to Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler.
However, the Wizards managed to reach the postseason for a third straight
year.

“We clinched the playoffs, and we will be tough,” Jamison said. “We are
playing hard every game, and tonight it came down to one shot for us that we
were not able to convert. This is a team that you will not be able to count
out. It is going to come, and we will get a couple of wins to get rolling.
Just because we made it to the playoffs does not mean that the hunger is not
still there. We are still trying to get wins to stay in the sixth spot.”

Washington remained 2 1/2 games behind first-place Miami in the Southeast
Division, as the Heat lost at Charlotte Tuesday. The Wizards, who are now two
games in front of New Jersey for sixth in the conference, play at Miami
Wednesday.

The Wizards were ahead 89-84 with 1:41 left after Songaila hit two free
throws. However, the Nets rallied for the next eight points. Jefferson hit a
layup with 58.7 seconds left for a one-point deficit.

After DeShawn Stevenson missed a shot in the lane, Jefferson drove in for a
layup, but missed. Kidd was there for the follow tip for his only basket of
the night, giving New Jersey a 90-89 lead with 30 seconds remaining.

Stevenson then missed another opportunity while driving on Kidd, and Carter
broke out the other way for a jam with 12.4 seconds to go.

It then became a free-throw shooting contest. Songaila hit two, before Carter
made a pair. The Nets then fouled Donell Taylor with 5.4 seconds remaining,
and he missed 1-of-2 attempts, leaving the margin at 94-92.

Carter sealed New Jersey’s victory with by sinking two more foul shots.

“Guys just really laid it on the line, trying to get a win and get ourselves
into the playoffs,” Carter said. “It’s just great to see that everybody’s just
giving the effort and laying it all out for the team.”

Mikki Moore had 13 points, while Kidd ended with 14 rebounds and 11 assists
for the Nets, who won all four meetings with Washington this season.

Antonio Daniels tallied 16 points for the Wizards, who were hurt by missing 10
free throws (25-of-35).

Washington led 24-16 after one quarter, but the second was an exact reversal,
leaving the score tied at the half. Carter’s three boosted the Nets to a 60-50
lead midway through the third, but the Wizards scored the next 12 and took a
67-65 lead going into the fourth on Taylor’s three-pointer.

Game Notes

New Jersey has won five straight and 11 of the last 15 matchups…Bostjan
Nachbar had 10 points for New Jersey, while Etan Thomas had 11 for the
Wizards, who ended 5-of-19 from beyond the arc.

NJN WAS