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Carter recovers from flu, leads Nets over Pacers

Nov 18, 2006 - 2:47 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Vince Carter is over the flu. The Indiana Pacers are not over their funk.

Carter scored 28 points, including a running bank shot and a pair of free throws down the stretch, to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 100-91 victory over the Pacers.

It was the first meeting between the teams since the Nets beat Pacers, 4-2, in the first round of the playoffs last season.

Carter was bothered by the flu and limited to a season-low 15 points in New Jersey's 100-87 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday. The seven-time All-Star swingman had averaged 31.2 points in New Jersey's first six games.

But the flu bug did not linger as Carter came out strong, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. Then in the final minutes, Carter delivered some big plays for the Nets, who won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"I'm fine," said Carter, who also had seven rebounds and two steals. "It was just one of those little 24-hour bugs that you go through. The important thing for us was to put together two wins in a row. We've been up and down, win one and lose one, so this was big for us."

After the Pacers pulled within 90-89 on a layup by Jermaine O'Neal, Carter hit a bank shot over Danny Granger in the lane with 2:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Carter then attracted three defenders with a driving shot that missed, but Nenad Krstic was left alone inside and scored off the rebound, increasing the lead to 94-89 with 1:50 left. Krstic finished with 18 points.

After Granger dunked off a pass by Jamaal Tinsley to pull the Pacers within three, Carter converted a pair of free throws with 1:06 left.

"Vince is our closer and he brings it home for us," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said.

Rookie Marcus Williams hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win.

The loss was the third in a row and fourth in five games for the Pacers, who rallied from a 14-point deficit to take a 75-71 lead early in the fourth quarter.

But the Nets reclaimed the lead after two free throws by Williams with 10:16 left and a 3-pointer by Cliff Robinson with 9:42 remaining.

Robinson finished with a season-high 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting off the bench.

"We came in with a mindset to put a couple of wins together instead of winning one and then losing one, like we've been doing," said the 39-year-old Robinson. "We came out here tonight and denied them the satisfaction of getting a win."

Jason Kidd had 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Nets, who played without starter Richard Jefferson for the fourth straight game due to a sprained ankle.

"The big thing for us tonight was we didn't panic," Kidd said. "We knew they are a good team playing at home and that they would make a run eventually and we kept our composure. It's a nice win because we are shorthanded right now (without Jefferson) and we need everybody to pitch in."

O'Neal, Indiana's star forward, was a no-show in a scoreless first half. But he scored 13 points in the third quarter when the Pacers outscored the Nets, 29-20.

"Jermaine came out with a very strong will in the second half to get our team back in the game," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "From there we just couldn't finish it off."

Al Harrington led Indiana with 18 points, O'Neal finished with 17 and Tinsley added 16.

"This is one that we needed to win," Tinsley said. "Basketball is a game of runs and whoever is on the run at the end of the game will probably win."

Carter scored half of New Jersey's points in the first quarter when it built a 26-18 advantage.

A jumper by Bostjan Nachbar with 9:02 left in the second quarter gave New Jersey its biggest lead at 35-21.

But Harrington started a 16-7 run with a 3-pointer. Marquis Daniels capped it with a basket with 4:09 left in the quarter, pulling the Pacers within 42-37.

The Nets closed the half with a 9-4 run as Krstic scored seven points.

After Carter converted a pair of free throws with 1:21 left in the third quarter to give the Nets a 71-64 advantage, Darrell Armstrong and Granger hit 3-pointers in the final 1:04 of the quarter to pull the Pacers within 71-70.

Granger then connected on another 3-pointer 16 seconds into the fourth quarter to give Indiana the lead and O'Neal followed with a jumper in the lane with 10:39 left.

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