Jason Kidd did his best against the Bulls, on both ends of the floor. Kidd recorded his 82nd career triple-double, and the New Jersey Nets erased an 18-point deficit against Chicago for the second time in a week, beating the Bulls 86-83 on Thursday night.
Besides shutting down Chicago's Ben Gordon in the second half, Kidd had 23 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season.
"The man comes out and puts his heart on the court every single time he steps out there. He demands you to play hard leading by his example. Unbelievable," Nets forward Mikki Moore said. "He plays with energy like he's a rookie. He never slacks."
Kirk Hinrich made a runner in the lane for Chicago to make it 74-67, then the Nets came back and scored 14 consecutive points. Richard Jefferson had a reverse dunk, Vince Carter made two free throws and then Kidd followed with a 3-pointer to give the Nets a 76-74 lead with 5:41 left in the game.
"I thought if we could get the tempo in our favor and get some easy shots, get guys feeling good about themselves, maybe we could turn it around," Kidd said.
Kidd extended the Nets' lead with a basket with 2:20 left, making it 81-74. Chicago got within 81-78 with 51 seconds left, but Jefferson followed with two free throws.
Andres Nocioni's 3 cut the Nets' lead to 83-81 with 16 seconds remaining. Kidd followed by hitting 1-of-2 free throws on the other end, making it 84-81. After Hinrich made two free throws, Kidd came back and made both free throws to make it 86-83. Then Kidd forced Hinrich to lose control of the ball and Hinrich's forced 3-point attempt was blocked by Bostjan Nachbar as time expired.
Carter added 18 points for the Nets.
Nocioni finished with 28 points for Chicago and Gordon had 23 _ only three after halftime while being defended by Kidd. Kidd limited Gordon to 1-for-5 shooting in the second half, the AP reports.
"When Jason is active like that he prevents Ben from catching the ball. He is one of the best who has ever played the game at doing that when he is locked in doing it," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "Other guys have to step up and do something. We tried to go to certain matchups, we had trouble driving by them and we missed our open shots."
Chicago couldn't hold an 18-0 lead at New Jersey last Friday. This time, the Bulls led by 18 early in the third quarter.
"You're down 14, you've got to start playing some defense," Kidd said. "As a veteran unit we don't panic.
"We took control of the game in the fourth quarter with our defense."
Kidd hit back-to-back jumpers that started a 14-1 run. Nachbar hit two free throws to get the Nets within 56-51 with 5:46 left in the quarter. Carter made a free throw to get the Nets within 61-59 with 2:58 left in the quarter.
"This is definitely up there. One of our better wins. Once again down 18. Our willingness to trust each other is pretty good," Carter said.
Gordon came in with 5:34 left in the first quarter and finished the period with 11 points. His 3 extended Chicago's lead to 47-31 with 1:18 remaining in the second quarter. Gordon finished the first half with 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting, including 5-for-5 from 3-point range. Noconi scored 11 points in the half for the Bulls, who led 49-35 at the break.
"We haven't been able to close games out. (We) come out playing really well early, we haven't been able to maintain it. It is something we need to figure out if we want to win games," Gordon said.
Moore had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets. Jefferson finished with 14 points.