Stephon Marbury's first home game in New Jersey turned into a celebration, with confetti flying around, the new coach sprinting off smiling and the Nets having a pizza party in the locker room.
Marbury scored 29 points and the Nets snapped an eight-game losing streak by beating the Dallas Mavericks 88-87 Wednesday night before a half-empty arena.
The victory wasn't assured until Michael Finley's 18-footer spun in and out at the buzzer.
"That last shot, I was under the basket and that ball was in. I don't know what made it come out," Jayson Williams said. "The ball was in, and I was saying `Oh, Lawdy, here we go again.'"
It was just the fourth victory of this disastrous season for the Nets, who were playing their second game under interim coach Don Casey.
"I'm proud of the guys tonight because I didn't think we'd ever get off No. 3," Williams said.
The arena was a quieter place than usual without John Calipari yelling on the sidelines, and the Nets had even more new faces on their bench as assistant coaches Jim Lynam and Eddie Jordan joined the staff.
Marbury shot 8-of-16 from the field and 11-of-13 from the line. Keith Van Horn added 19 points, Kendall Gill had 15 and Williams tied his season-high with 21 rebounds despite a sore left thumb that had him grimacing in pain all night.
"When you win a game like that, it gives you confidence," Marbury said. "Tonight, we had a game plan offensively and defensively. Tonight was a perfect homecoming game for us, a big win tonight, a big win."
Kittles made both foul shots with 17.7 seconds left, and Finley couldn't sink the final shot.
Casey reacted by sprinting back to his office with a mile-wide grin on his face as confetti fell from above and the players pranced on the court.
"It was a good win, everybody was hugging, Stephon bought pizza and guys were hugging and kissing and high-fiving," Williams said. "(Motivational guru) Tony Robbins came in and we all did our little chant. Tony Robbins, Jim Jones."
Finley and Trent had 21 apiece to lead the Mavericks.
Dallas pulled ahead midway through the fourth when Hubert Davis hit three 3-pointers in a row. The Nets tied it with 3:29 left on a basket by Gill, but the Mavs scored the next four points to make it 85-81 heading into the final two minutes.
Van Horn scored on a drive with 1:57 left and Marbury drove around Finley for a layup and three-point play that put New Jersey ahead 86-85 with 57 seconds left.
"I thought we were playing against MJ, not because of the moves he was making but because of the respect he got," Finley said of Marbury. "He's definitely going to help this team."
After sputtering through the first 18 minutes taking almost nothing but long jumpers, the Nets started to get creative midway through the second quarter. A 3-pointer by Davis gave Dallas a 35-23 lead before New Jersey closed the half with a 15-2 run to take a 42-39 lead.
The run reached 23-2 on a 3-pointer by Marbury with 9:26 left in the third quarter that made it 50-40.
Marbury scored the final five points of the quarter on two free throws and a 33-footer at the buzzer, making it 67-60 entering the fourth, and the Nets stayed ahead until Davis hit his trio of 3-pointers in a span of 72 seconds to give Dallas a 79-75 lead.
- Robbins, who spoke to the Nets in Toronto after Calipari was fired, sat near the Nets' bench and poked his head into the huddle during a timeout.
- Ex-Net Shawn Bradley scored three points, going 1-for-6 from both the line and the field in 25 minutes. Nets fans, accustomed to such performances from the 7-foot-6 center, razzed him at every opportunity.
- Bradley and Van Horn got into a minor scuffle that resulted in double technical fouls. Van Horn later said Bradley was taking aim at Williams' injured thumb.
- The Nets played the middle game of their only set of three games in three nights this season.
- New Jersey hasn't lost at home to Dallas since the 1990-91 season.
- Marbury bought tickets for 16 family and friends.
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