Steve Novak made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer _ his seventh of the game _ to help the Los Angeles Clippers snap a seven-game losing streak with a 107-105 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Sunday night.
Vince Carter had a season-high 41 points along with seven rebounds and six assists for the Nets, whose postseason hopes may have been hurt when point guard and leading scorer Devin Harris left with 8:53 remaining in the third quarter because of a strained left shoulder.
The All-Star who was driving to the basket on an attempted layup when Marcus Camby swatted the ball and Harris' right arm simultaneously _ sending Harris crashing to the floor.
Novak finished with 21 points, and Baron Davis and Al Thornton each scored 20 for Los Angeles.
The Nets are one of six teams separated by 2 1/2 games in the race for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference _ with Milwaukee and Chicago tied for eighth and New Jersey 1 1/2 games behind at 28-38. The first seven teams all are over .500.
Returning to their home court for the first time since blowing a 19-point fourth-quarter lead in a 87-83 loss to Cleveland last Tuesday, the Clippers led New Jersey by 14 late in the second quarter. But they squandered that margin, too, as Carter scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and put the Nets ahead 105-102 on a 3-pointer with 12.7 seconds to play.
Davis made two free throws for the Clippers with 7.3 seconds left, but they had to foul _ and Jarvis Hayes missed both free throws. The Clippers called time out after Thornton rebounded the second miss, and they threw four passes looking for the open man before Novak connected from in front of the New Jersey bench.
It was a frustrating ending for Hayes, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers to slice an 11-point deficit to 100-95 with 3:43 remaining.
After Harris' injury, Josh Boone shot the free throws in his place and made both of them to trim the Clippers' lead to 72-63. Trenton Hassell's 12-footer made it 72-69 with 6:34 left in the third quarter, but the Clippers restored their double-digit lead by the end of the period.
Nets forward Yi Jianlian, whose numbers have slipped over the past 13 games since his return from an injured finger on his right hand that sidelined him for more than five weeks, went to the bench with 3:36 left in the first quarter and remained there for the rest of the half after missing his first three shots and failing to get a rebound.
New Jersey was trailing by two points when the 7-foot forward _ who had a season-high 27 points against the Clippers in a 112-95 win at East Rutherford on Nov. 22 _ left the floor. The Clippers extended the margin to 65-54 by halftime with 16 points from Davis, but it would have been worse for the Nets had had it not been for Carter's 20 points in the half, and a 3-pointer by ex-Clipper Keyon Dooling that beat the halftime buzzer.
Notes:@ Carter overtook Richard Jefferson for second place on the Nets' career scoring list, increasing his total to 8,532. Buck Williams is first with 10,440. ... The Clippers have had eight streaks of seven or more consecutive losses since Mike Dunleavy became head coach in 2003-04, and five other losing streaks of six games during that stretch. ... Carter beat the Clippers with a 3-point buzzer-beater at Staples Center on March 8, 2000, while playing for Toronto. ... Carter and Harris entered Sunday as the highest scoring backcourt combo this season, with a combined average of 43.3 points. ... Carter has reached the 30-point mark 10 times this season. ... The Clippers are 3-6 in games decided by two points or fewer.
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