EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Kris Humphries scored a career-high 25 points and the New Jersey Nets avoided the worst 44-game start in NBA history with a 103-87 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
The Nets (4-40) were tied with the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks (3-40) 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 winning for the first time in 2010.
Brook Lopez added 19 points and nine rebounds and Keyon Dooling had 10 of 18 points in the fourth quarter for New Jersey, which snapped an 11-game losing streak, their third double-digit losing skid of the season.
Chris Kaman had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers. Craig Smith added 18 points and eight rebounds.
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 "Celebrate."
And the Nets did it 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 was 10-of-14 from the field in eclipsing his previous career best of 21 points.
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.
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.
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' liuneup 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.