EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -The New Jersey Nets opened their 29-year NBA stay at the Meadowlands with a loss and they ended the run the same way.
The constant in both events was Larry Brown. He coached the Nets that night in 1981 against the Knicks and he was back for the final game to guide the Charlotte Bobcats over New Jersey 105-95 on Monday night.
``I was here for the first and the last,' Brown said. ``What does that tell you? How dumb are these people who keep hiring me? I'm sure over my career I've been in a lot of buildings and outlasted them. Me. Nelly (Don Nelson) and Lenny (Wilkins). Coach (Jerry) Sloan. I don't know if that's a good thing.'
The good news for Brown is that his Bobcats (44-37) are headed for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
With Miami's win over Philadelphia earlier Monday, the Bobcats were cemented into the No. 7 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and will meet the defending conference champion Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs this weekend.
``They got a great coach,' Brown said of Stan Van Gundy. ``They went to finals last year and all they did was add Vince Carter. Everyday that Dwight (Howard) plays, he's better. They're a team that can win the NBA championship. They have all the things going for them.'
Stephen Jackson had 17 points and nine rebounds to lead the Bobcats, but the story of the game for Charlotte was its bench. It outscored New Jersey 50-4 with Gerald Henderson getting 14 points, Tyrus Thomas 13 and D.J. Augustin 11.
``The first half, we just tried to come in and give them a boost,' said Henderson, who also had seven rebounds. ``When you get in there, you just try to keep it the same or get it better. We played some pretty good defense down the stretch and we converted our offense pretty good. It was a pretty good overall game.'
Devin Harris had 22 points and Terrence Williams added 21 and 13 rebounds for the Nets, who finished 655-518 in the Meadowlands.
``It's disappointing losing the last game at Izod,' Harris said. ``But it's been like that for us all season.'
The Nets (12-69) will play the next two seasons at the Prudential Center in Newark, before moving into a new arena in Brooklyn in 2012.
``I hate to see them leave New Jersey,' Brown said.
The victory was the ninth in 12 games for the Bobcats, who gave starting small forward Gerald Wallace the night off so he could rest his bruised left shoulder for the playoffs.
Charlotte blew a 15-point halftime lead and had to rally late in the third quarter with Jackson leading a six-point run to go ahead 81-77 heading to the fourth quarter.
After the teams exchanged a couple of baskets, Augustin hit a baseline jumper and Henderson, who also had seven rebounds, converted a three-point play to push the lead to 90-81.
Tyson Chandler added a free throw and Thomas made two more to stretch the advantage to 93-81 and New Jersey never got close again.
Trailing by 15 at the half, the Nets opened the third quarter with an 18-5 spurt and eventually took a 74-73 lead rebound follow by Yi Jianlian with 3:16 left in the quarter.
Jackson then sandwiched a jumper and a strong driving layup around a basket by Boris Diaw to give Charlotte a 79-74 lead.
Harris had 12 of the Nets' 33 points in the quarter in which coach Kiki Vandeweghe played his starters almost the entire period.
NOTES: Henderson had two highlight-reel plays late in the second quarter with a dunk over Nets G Devin Harris and a reverse play with a pump fake. ... Thomas returned to the Bobcats' lineup after missing three games with a dislocated right thumb. ... Nets reserve F Kris Humphries injured his right elbow in the first half and did not return. ... Backup point guard Keyon Dooling was inactive with a groin injury, while starting small forward Jarvis Hayes missed his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. ... The teams split four games this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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