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Carter helps Nets sink Pacers

Apr 16, 2007 - 12:51 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Vince Carter has the New Jersey Nets looking up after he brought down the season for the Indiana Pacers.

Carter scored 35 points to lift the Nets to a 111-107 victory over the Pacers, who are out of the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

Indiana was eliminated from postseason contention after Orlando beat Boston, 88-86, later Sunday. The last time the Pacers missed the playoffs was 1997.

"The season really didn't get off to a good start," Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal said. "We were trying to catch up from day one and we never really recovered."

New Jersey (39-41), meanwhile, suddenly has a chance to overhaul the reeling Washington Wizards (40-40) for the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Nets have picked up five games on the injury-plagued Wizards since April 1.

"I really don't care, I've never cared about there we're at," Carter said of the playoff seeding. "I'm only concerned about us continuing to play well and winning games because it's important to be playing well going into the playoffs."

Carter scored eight of his points in the final 3:56 to help repel Indiana's comeback attempt and got help from an unlikely source.

Swinging Bostjan Nachbar scored 25 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including hitting 6-of-6 3-point attempts. He also supplied a pivotal playing down the stretch, dunking while getting fouled and converting the free throw for a 105-96 cushion with 2:55 left.

"Throughout the game, he was big for us," Nets point guard Jason Kidd said. "He's not just hitting the three, but he's also putting it on the floor too. He's such a threat, because he's so good from the outside. When he puts it on the floor he can do things, too."

Unlike Carter, Nachbar emphasized the importance of postseason positioning.

"This is a huge road win, especially once we found out Washington had lost and we could be only a game behind them for the sixth seed," Nachbar said. "It feels good to be able to contribute like I did today. But either way, if I didn't play good, it's still important for our bench to play well."

Kidd just missed his 88th career triple-double with 12 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. He provided the dagger by burying a jumper to give the Nets a 110-104 lead with 11 seconds to go.

"Well, we've got two games left, so right now, we're not focused on the playoffs," Kidd said. "We came in and took care of business and now we just have to get ready for New York."

O'Neal scored 20 points to lead a balanced attack for the Pacers, who had seven players in double figures.

Indiana scored the first basket of the final quarter, but New Jersey answered with an 8-0 run and took an 88-82 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by rookie Marcus Williams and Nachbar.

The Pacers rallied to tie at 92-92 when Darrell Armstrong hit from the arc with 7:07 left, but Nachbar answered with a 3-pointer to put the Nets ahead to stay.

"I've never missed the playoffs - at any level," O'Neal said. "High school, AAU, the pros, whatever. ... I've always been involved with a playoff team. The reality is that it's a wake-up call from top to bottom.

"If you want to win, everybody's going to have to think about it this summer and challenge yourself to bring something back that you didn't have this year."

Danny Granger and Troy Murphy added 17 points apiece for Indiana, which lost for the third time in four games.

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