Nets avoid embarrassing NBA mark by beating Clippers

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The crowd was on its feet and clapping. The players were standing near midcourt, happily waiting for the final buzzer to sound.

It was like so many others Nets' games this season, except it was the New Jersey fans cheering, the home team running out the clock and the Los Angeles Clippers walking off the court as losers.

Yes, the Nets won for only the fourth time in 44 games this season and ended a 29-game losing streak against Western Conference opponents.

Kris Humphries scored a career-high 25 points and the Nets avoided the worst 44-game start in NBA history with a 103-87 victory over the Clippers on Wednesday night, snapping an 11-game losing streak.

"Man getting a win feels great, especially against a team we just lost to last week " Humphries said after the Nets won for the first time in 2010.

"Did we need this?" center Brook Lopez said after chipping in 19 points and nine rebounds. "Are you kidding me? I mean we were 3-40. That's not a tough question to answer."

The Nets were tied with the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks for the NBA's worst record after 43 games and all they had to do was lose another to secure another mark in this miserable season that opened with a league-record 18 straight losses.

It didn't happen although the Nets managed to blow a 16-point first-half lead in the third quarter before ending their third double-digit losing streak of the season.

"I know I definitely needed it, especially coming off the last road trip which I said was the worst of my life," said veteran guard Keyon Dooling, who scored 10 of 18 points in the fourth quarter. "I still believe that. We responded well."

Chris Kaman had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers. Craig Smith added 18 points and eight rebounds.

"Words can't even describe this," said veteran Clippers guard Baron Davis, who was limited to six points in 29 minutes, with only two coming in the fourth quarter.

"We're fighting for a playoff spot and we lost to a team that's not even close to making the playoffs," he added. "It's tough man."

Nets public address announcer Gary Sussman entertained the crowd of 9,220 with "Nets WIN! Nets WIN!" seconds after the final buzzer and the Izod Arena speakers blared "Celebration."

And the Nets won without their starting backcourt. Devin Harris (sprained wrist) and Courtney Lee (oral surgery) both sat out.

The key for the Nets was coming back after the Clippers rallied to tie the game early in the third quarter at 53.

Instead of folding, New Jersey countered with a 14-4 spurt that featured nine points by Humphries, who eclipsed his previous career high of 21 points set last week against the Clippers.

"Getting the win is more important," Humphries said, downplaying his point total. "Nobody remembers who averaged what on a bad team. It's just about winning. It doesn't mean anything to put up numbers on a bad team."

New Jersey led 71-64 entering the fourth quarter and they never let the Clippers get closer than 73-70 on a 3-pointer by Rasual Butler (14 points).

Lopez hit a long 2-point set shot and Humphries drove the lane for a dunk for a 77-70 lead.

The margin was 79-74 when Dooling sandwiched a drive and a jumper around a steal and two free throws by Jarvis Hayes for an 85-74 lead and Los Angeles never threatened.

"The easy thing for us to do as a team has been to sulk and point a finger," Dooling said. "We kind of fell victim to that. Tonight we came out of that and we can build from that."

Humphries and Chris Quinn, who were acquired in trades last month, helped the Nets build a 16-point second quarter lead, combining for 14 points in a 20-8 run. Humphries had eight and Quinn nailed two 3-pointers.

The Clippers, who looked sluggish most of the first half, cut New Jersey's lead to 51-41 at the half and then opened the third quarter with a 12-2 spurt, tying the game when Kaman hit the first of two free throws.

The Nets then responded -- for the first time in a while.

Game notes
The Nets 10-point halftime lead marked only the second time they were up by double digits at the half. They led Minnesota by 12 in the season opener. ... Starting guard Eric Gordon returned to the Clippers' lineup after missing three games with a sprained big left toe. ... Clippers center Marcus Camby only played seven minutes because of bruised ribs. ...The Nets posted their first double digit lead since beating the Knicks on Dec. 30. ... Bobby Brown had eight points in his first game for the Clippers.