for this game

Jefferson, Carter carry Nets past Wizards

Apr 11, 2007 - 5:20 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- New Jersey's big three came up big when it mattered most.

Richard Jefferson scored a season-high 35 points and Vince Carter had six of his 31 in the final 12 seconds to lift the Nets to a 96-92 victory over the Washington Wizards.

All-Star point guard Jason Kidd, held to four points to match his lowest total since March 3, made his second field goal count by tipping in Jefferson's miss with 30 seconds left to give New Jersey the lead for good, 90-89.

"Hey, you know, that's the funny thing about Jason," Jefferson said. "No matter what, you always know he's going to be there. I've seen him go 0-for-10 and then hit the key three at the end of the game. You know that he plays with that kind of intensity and I think he knew I didn't have that much left in the tank so he kept following me up on that layup."

The Wizards, who were playing without injured All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, still came away with a positive result as they locked up a playoff berth when Indiana lost at Philadelphia.

"Despite what has happened recently, we had done enough in the early and middle parts of the season to make the playoffs for a third straight year," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "It is hard winning in this league and it is much harder to make the playoffs. Again, despite what has happened recently, we are in and it's a big accomplishment.

The Nets (37-40), which is in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, moved a game ahead of idle Orlando (36-41) and three ahead of the Pacers.

"We understand what it takes to win in the playoffs. We've been there," Carter said. "The three of us have to lead our team. We're two games away and we just have to get those two games. That's how I see it. "We just wanted to try to finish it in regulation so we didn't have to go into overtime on their floor."

Antawn Jamison again stepped up in the absence of Washington's two biggest stars with 26 points and 11 rebounds, marking his third double-double in four games.

It was a rematch of Saturday's wild 120-114 overtime victory by the Nets in which Carter and Kidd became the first teammates to post triple-doubles in the same game since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the Chicago Bulls in 1989.

This time it was Jefferson leading the way for New Jersey. The 6-7 swingman, who missed 21 games with an ankle injury earlier in the season, finished 13-of-19 from the field.

"I got some good looks, got some run-outs, got hot mainly with the jumper, but you see I'm not attacking the basket," Jefferson said. "I don't even think I had a dunk tonight. Normally, if I have that many points, I have a couple of dunks but my ankle doesn't necessarily determine how I play."

Trailing, 89-84, with 1:40 left, the Nets ran off an 8-0 spurt as Carter sandwiched baskets around hoops by Jefferson and Kidd for a 92-89 advantage with 12 seconds left.

Carter iced the game with four free throws in the final 5.4 seconds.

While he did little on offense, Kidd had 14 rebounds and 11 assists for New Jersey, which finished 25-of-29 from the free-throw line.

"This game is about getting stops and making shots at the right time, and we did that in the fourth quarter," Kidd said. "We've got us guys who've been in this situation, and we got very fortunate the ball bounced our way. We made plays when we had to, defensively and offensively."

Darius Songaila added 19 points for the Wizards, who are in the playoffs for the third straight season despite suffering their fifth straight loss.

"We are in the playoffs, and that is a big accomplishment," Songaila said. "For every team at the beginning of the season, it is a goal to make the playoffs. It is not the way we wanted to do it, but it happened and we will take it."

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