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Back-and-forth battle ends with Nets on top of Bucks

Dec 30, 2007 - 5:58 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- For the first time in nearly two months, the New Jersey Nets found some extra energy and won on the second night of a back-to-back set.

Vince Carter scored 23 points and Richard Jefferson added 19 to lead the Nets to a 97-95 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.

Jason Kidd scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and finished the contest with 15 assists for New Jersey, which had not won the second of back-to-back games on consecutive days since November 3.

"We are really proud of our guys," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "The effort plays that we made really stand out. The intensity that Jason Kidd played with against Michael Redd was great. We played like a committed team. There is a lot of parity in this league and most times it comes down to the difference of one play. This was a team win."

The Nets picked up a 109-106 win at home against Washington on Friday and have now won four of their last five games after winning just one of seven from December 5-18.

"It's an ever-evolving process," Frank said of his team's recent success. "It's not like the switch just goes and then it goes off. It's an accumulation of practice habits, work habits and preparation. You just have to keep on plugging away. It's a long season. We just want to keep on building and getting better."

Trailing, 77-74, after Charlie Villanueva hit a jumper with 7:54 remaining in the game, New Jersey went on a 7-0 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Kidd that put the team on top 81-77 with 6:13 to play.

But the Bucks refused to quit, using a 9-2 run capped off by Yi Jianlian's jumper with 2:54 to play to climb back on top, 86-83.

Carter responded by nailing a 20-foot jumper and, after Jefferson blocked a shot and the Nets drew a pair of non-shooting fouls, Kidd hit his second 3-pointer of the quarter to forge an 88-86 lead with just 1:32 left.

"What's there to say about him?" Bucks guard Mo Williams said. "He's a Hall-of-Fame player, one of the best point guards to ever play the game."

New Jersey won the free-throw battle in the final minutes, connecting on 5-of-8 attempts from the line in the final minute to seal the win.

Milwaukee wasted a 35-point effort from All-Star Michael Redd, who shot 12-of-23 from the floor, and Williams, who totaled 24 points and six assists. Yi was the only other player to reach double figures with 12 points for the Bucks.

"We just have to keep fighting," Williams said. "It'll fall our way one day. Guys are not going at each other. Guys still want to turn things around. It's not like we're getting blown out, they're close games and we're playing well. Close games are about catching breaks."

New Jersey dominated on the inside against Milwaukee, holding a 40-32 advantage in points in the paint and a 17-5 advantage in second-chance points.

"It's certainly tough to swallow," Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak. "We seem to be failing maybe in an area or two game-to-game. It's not always the same repeating story.

"I thought we had a heck of a time securing a defensive rebound for a stretch there. That might have been our Achilles heel this evening, giving them 17 to five in second chance points. That's probably the difference in the ballgame."

The Bucks have now lost 14 of their last 18 games and managed just 44 percent (33-of-74) shooting from the field on Saturday.

"I was pretty pleased with the effort," Krystkowiak said. "I thought we laid it on the line going against a pretty talented team. Certainly the point guard (Kidd), shooting guard (Carter) and small forward (Jefferson) on that team are a pretty formidable trio and they came ready to play.

"For the most part, we battled with those guys most of the night. The energy I didn't really have a problem with."

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