EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Jason Kidd returned to the starting lineup and banked in a half-court heave at the end of the third quarter to give the Nets the lead for good in a 101-81 victory against Orlando on Thursday night.
The loss assured the Magic, which has lost 12 straight, at least a tie for the league's worst record. With one more loss in its final three games, the Magic (19-60) will be assured of having the best chance to win the draft lottery.
The Nets' fourth win in five games did not come without concern. Kenyon Martin, who had missed eight of the past 10 games with tendinitis in his left knee, left late in the third when his knee started acting up. He returned early in the fourth quarter.
"Maybe the more I play, the less it will ache," Martin said. "I hope this is not going to be the story, but we'll have to wait and see. I'm not worried, just concerned that it's going to keep on like that."
Juwan Howard had 21 points and Drew Gooden added 20 points and 12 rebounds for Orlando, which has not won since March 10 and again did not have Tracy McGrady in the lineup. "It's been like this the whole season," Gooden said. "The whole season."
Kidd, making his first start since March 18, gave the Nets a 68-67 lead entering the fourth with his desperation shot. Kidd, who was sidelined with a bone bruise in his left knee, finished with eight points and seven assists in 31 minutes.
MAVS 117, JAZZ 94: Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 and Antawn Jamison added 25, sending host Dallas to its sixth straight victory and 50th of the season. Dallas tied Memphis for the fifth seed in the West with four games left.
Utah, which allowed its most points since the Mavs scored 127 in the second game of the season, fell a half-game behind Denver and Portland for eighth in the West. The Jazz has three games left to try qualifying for the postseason a 21st straight season. Coach Don Nelson equated the game to a playoff game because of its importance to the Jazz. The Mavericks responded by making 17 of their first 24 shots and leading by 24 four minutes into the second quarter.
WOLVES 94, KINGS 86: Sam Cassell scored 29, and Kevin Garnett added 24 points and 17 rebounds to lead visiting Minnesota, which won its sixth in a row and moved to No. 1 in the West. The Timberwolves are a half-game ahead of Sacramento. Chris Webber led the Kings with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
WILLIAMS TRIAL: Defense lawyers for Jayson Williams asked a judge to dismiss all charges against the former player, charging that prosecutors in his manslaughter trial intentionally withheld evidence. In legal papers filed, the lawyers contend Williams was denied a fair trial by the prosecution's "intentional and egregious" misconduct, including its failure to give the defense notes and photographs by a prosecution weapons expert before the trial started.
Prosecutors said the error was inadvertent and the material did not undercut the opinions of defense weapons experts. The trial in Somerville, N.J., has been in recess over the dispute since April 1; the jury will not be in court until Tuesday at the earliest. Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman is set to hear arguments on the dispute Monday. Williams, 36, is charged with aggravated manslaughter and other counts in the Feb. 14, 2002, shooting death of a hired driver, 55-year-old Costas "Gus" Christofi.
LAKERS: Horace Grant missed his second straight day of rehab on his injured hip, making him a long shot to land on the playoff roster. Grant had hoped to play when the Lakers host Memphis tonight, but his pain was so bad he no longer sees a return during the regular season. Grant, who has played just 10 minutes since March 2, is a valuable defender and key backup to Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone.
"If he can't go through a game, he's got to practice in a certain situation which I could believe it," coach Phil Jackson said. "It's just too iffy to risk a spot on the playoff roster without having some insurance."