NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - With his young team down 12 entering the fourth quarter on the road, New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams said only one thing to them.
``I told them that they had to remain poised,' said Williams, whose team erased the double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to stun the New Jersey Nets 102-94 Saturday night.
``We just played the right way down the stretch. Sometimes, teams just miss shots and the opponent makes shots. A lot of teams would have quit playing, but our team had a huge amount of poise. Our defense was good down the stretch and we made shots. The execution only looks good when you make shots.'
The Hornets made three huge shots with the shot clock winding down to improve to 11-34.
First, Jarrett Jack, who had 16 points, calmly made a 3-pointer with 1:28 remaining, giving the Hornets the lead for good at 95-94.
Then, Chris Kaman, who scored 20 points, hit a huge 23-foot jumper with a second left on the shot clock and 45 seconds left in the game to push the lead to 97-94.
Marco Belinelli sealed the win with a fall-away 3-pointer with 16.8 seconds left, also with the shot clock down to a second. Belinelli also scored 20 points for the Hornets.
``We were down, but we never panicked,' Belinelli said. ``Me, Jack, Chris, we all made big shots and that's how we won this game. I think everyone was happy to get this one.'
No one was happier than New Jersey native Lance Thomas, who scored 10 points off the bench, including six in the fourth quarter, four on consecutive dunks and two on a left-handed hook shot in the closing minutes.
``It is amazing for me to do this well in front of so many family and friends,' said Thomas, the former Duke product who hails from nearby Scotch Plains, N.J., and played as a professional close to home for the first time. ``It's a dream come true to play at this level.
``It was a long, hard road to get here, but that just makes me appreciate it more. It felt good that Coach Williams had the confidence in me to play me down the stretch. It's a great moment for me.'
The Nets held an 82-70 lead going into the fourth quarter, but lost the lead in the final period.
``When you get outscored 32-12 in the fourth quarter, it's never good,' Nets coach Avery Johnson said. ``We missed layups. We missed open jump shots. We had shots blocked at the basket. We missed some opportunities.'
Deron Williams had 20 points and 12 assists for the Nets. They also got 20 points from Anthony Morrow and 16 from Gerald Green off the bench.
Both Morrow and Green were disappointed after the loss.
``This was tough, because we were in control most of the game,' Morrow said. ``We were not able to slow them down in the fourth quarter. We couldn't get anything going offensively. It's tough to watch everything unravel like this. It's a tough situation to see everything come apart like that.'
``We have to be able to win games like this,' Green said. ``We played well for so long and then watched it slip away.'
Gerald Wallace, making his debut with the Nets after being acquired in a trade with Portland before Thursday's trading deadline, scored 11 points.
The Nets took the lead in the late stages of the first quarter, thanks to the bench play of guard Morrow, who scored seven points in a span of 2:23.
Morrow's corner jumper gave the Nets the lead at 22-20 with 3:58 left and the Nets held a 29-26 lead after one quarter.
The Nets then maintained a 51-47 halftime lead, with 12 second-quarter points from Green, whose second 10-day contract with the Nets expires Sunday.
The Nets extended their lead to 82-70 after three periods. Morrow scored 11 in the third and Wallace added seven, including a long 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving New Jersey its biggest lead of the night.
Thomas had two consecutive dunks early in the fourth quarter that brought the Hornets within 82-76, but Williams hit two straight jumpers that brought the lead back to 86-78 with 6:30 left.
The Hornets got even in the fourth quarter, when Kaman hit two free throws, tying the game at 88-88 with 3:48 left. The teams continued to trade scores for the next minute, until Williams and Green connected on consecutive baskets to give the Nets a 94-90 lead.
After Jack and Kaman made their shots, the Nets had a chance to draw closer, but Deron Williams missed a driving shot with 38.5 seconds left, sealing yet another home loss for New Jersey.
Belinelli's shot with 16.8 seconds remaining put the capper on the win for New Orleans.
``Our defense was good down the stretch, getting stop after stop,' Hornets coach Williams said. ``They were hot early, but they missed the shots late.'
NOTES: Wallace said that the trade to New Jersey ``kind of caught me by surprise. I didn't see it coming. I asked my agent if anything was happening and it came as kind of a shock to me.' ... Backup point guard Jordan Farmar missed his second straight game with a strained right groin, but Nets coach Avery Johnson expects Farmar to play Monday night against Cleveland.
The Associated Press News Service
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