EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — His players couldn’t stop the Nets, so Mike Brown hoped Josh Boone’s free throw shooting would do it for him.
That didn’t work, either.
Boone scored a season-high 15 points, foiling the Hack-a-Boone strategy by making just enough when he was twice fouled intentionally in the fourth quarter, and the New Jersey Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 on Friday night.
The reserve forward was 4-for-19 (21 percent) from the line entering the game, but made 2-of-4 down the stretch to help the Nets end a four-game losing streak.
“I said something to LeBron like, ‘Man, don’t disrespect me like that,’” Boone said. “Then again, I am shooting 20 percent from the free throw line on the year. I tried to step up there and made 1-of-2 on both of them.”
Vince Carter matched a season high with 32 points and Richard Jefferson had 24 for New Jersey. Boone, who threw up an airball from the foul line earlier in the game, was 3-of-8 there overall.
“We weren’t playing defense. We weren’t playing good defense,” Brown said. “They were picking us apart. So we took a chance with the Boone thing, and if we were defending like I believe we were capable of defending, there’s a chance we might not have done it. We just would have relied on our defense.”
Jason Kidd finished with eight points, 11 assists and eight rebounds as the Nets overcame their usual slow start at home to win for only the second time in seven games — both against Cleveland.
“We lost four games in a row,” Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. “We haven’t played well, especially at home. It’s just good to get a win, regardless of who you play.”
LeBron James had 29 points, eight assists and six rebounds for Cleveland, which has lost seven of eight. Five of those losses came when its superstar was out with a sprained left index finger. Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
“I think they did a great job of executing,” James said. “We can’t give up 48 percent shooting, but at the same time they did a great job of executing, taking advantage of some of the weaknesses that we had defensively.”
New Jersey led by nine midway through the fourth quarter, but Ilgauskas made a jumper and James hit consecutive 3-pointers to cut the Nets’ lead to 93-92 with 4:10 remaining. Carter then answered with a three, and after a jumper by Drew Gooden, Boone kept the Nets safely ahead with his work at the line.
The Nets, plagued by poor starts at home, trailed by double digits halfway through the opening quarter. Their 1-of-11 start from the field included an inept stretch by Boone, who missed a layup and a tip on one possession, then grabbed an offensive rebound but blew the dunk on the next.
“We wouldn’t let him lose his confidence. You could see he was down,” Carter said. “We told him he would get plenty of opportunities to make up for it tonight. It was great to see him step up to the free throw line after shooting that airball and step up to hit 1-for-2 on both times they fouled him.”
New Jersey regrouped to get within four heading to the second, then went ahead 31-27 early in the period when rookie reserve Sean Williams followed his three-point play with a dunk on the next trip. But Larry Hughes and Daniel Gibson each scored nine points in the period, with Hughes hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Cleveland a 57-50 halftime lead.
Ilgauskas scored 12 points in the third, but the Nets surged ahead by hitting 10 of 17 shots, with Carter’s jumper with 25 seconds left making it 80-78 heading to the fourth.
James doesn’t believe Kidd actually said he wanted to play in Cleveland. When Kidd missed a game earlier this month with a migraine — the day after the game in Cleveland — there were reports he was trying to force a trade and one of his desired choices was to play with James, his USA Basketball teammate.
“I think he’s a great point guard, you dream of having point guards like that, especially for me,” James said. “But we’re going against the Nets with Jason Kidd so that’s how we’ve got to take it right now.”
• Marcus Williams, out all season after right foot surgery, took part in the morning shootaround, but Frank said the earliest target date for the point guard’s season debut is Tuesday against Sacramento.
“He’ll practice on Monday and we’ll make a decision,” Frank said before the game. “If we needed to in an emergency situation, we probably could dress him tomorrow (at New York). Hopefully, we won’t be in that position.”
CLEVELAND (97): James 12-25 2-3 29, Gooden 5-8 3-4 13, Ilgauskas 8-13 5-5 21, Gibson 3-4 3-3 12, Pavlovic 0-2 0-0 0, Varejao 3-5 0-0 6, Hughes 4-15 0-0 9, Newble 1-3 1-1 3, Da.Jones 1-4 0-0 2, S.Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Snow 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 38-81 14-16 97.
NEW JERSEY (105): Jefferson 7-16 10-12 24, Allen 0-3 0-0 0, Collins 0-0 0-2 0, Kidd 2-7 2-2 8, Carter 13-22 4-4 32, Boone 6-11 3-8 15, S.Williams 4-6 1-1 9, Armstrong 0-1 0-0 0, Wright 1-3 0-0 2, Nachbar 5-10 2-2 13, Magloire 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 39-80 22-31 105.
Cleveland 25 32 21 19 — 97
New Jersey 21 29 30 25 — 105
3-Point Goals—Cleveland 7-23 (Gibson 3-4, James 3-9, Hughes 1-4, Newble 0-1, Pavlovic 0-1, S.Brown 0-1, Da.Jones 0-3), New Jersey 5-18 (Carter 2-2, Kidd 2-5, Nachbar 1-5, Armstrong 0-1, Wright 0-2, Jefferson 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Cleveland 38 (Ilgauskas 12), New Jersey 57 (Kidd, Boone 8). Assists—Cleveland 21 (James 8), New Jersey 27 (Kidd 11). Total Fouls—Cleveland 29, New Jersey 15. Technicals—Magloire, New Jersey defensive three second. A—15,242 (19,990).