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Carter, Armstrong help Nets rally past Magic

Jan 3, 2008 - 5:06 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Darrell Armstrong is 39 years old, but beating his former team had him feeling young again.

Vince Carter scored 18 points and capped a furious comeback by hitting a pair of free throws in the final half minute to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 96-95 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

A former Magic guard, Armstrong added 13 points off the bench for the Nets, including several key shots down the stretch which helped do in his old team.

"It meant a lot (to Armstrong)," Carter said. "He is always such a high energy guy but it was something special - a little more swagger in his game tonight. It was great to see."

Armstrong was seen grinning widely between timeouts as he scored nine points in the final period.

"It always feels good to come back and not just play well, but win," said Armstrong, who was both the Comeback Player of the Year and the Sixth Man of the Year with the Magic in 1999.

"I'm 39 years old and still go out and play the game hard. My body has been feeling good, and I have been working aggressively on shooting the ball."

Jason Kidd helped orchestrate the comeback by recording 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Nets, who shot 58 percent (24-of-41) in the second half.

But it was Armstrong's exploits that helped New Jersey outscore Orlando, 30-18, during a frantic fourth quarter in which the lead changed hands seven times in the final 4 1/2 minutes.

"He is our secret weapon," said Carter, who added seven rebounds and six assists. "Darrell is always ready to play. He is a professional and he got his opportunity. He has been around and just knows how to play the game and respond."

Armstrong hit a jumper with his foot on the 3-point line to give the Nets a 94-93 lead with 50 seconds to play. However, Hedo Turkoglu responded with a jumper from the top of the key that gave the Magic a 95-94 lead with 31 seconds left.

Carter then took the ball straight to the hoop and was fouled by Dwight Howard. He then calmly hit both free throws to put New Jersey up 96-95 with 25 ticks remaining.

Turkoglu, who won Monday's game vs. Chicago with a shot at the buzzer, could not pull it off again. He led the Magic with 23 points but was stripped as he drove the lane in the final seconds.

"I just read the situation," said Turkoglu, who was called on for the Magic's last two offense possessions. "I saw the opening and went for the drive. I guess it was too crowded down there and I couldn't finish it up."

"Down the stretch it's going to come down to stops," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "You've got to do the things to deserve to win and we did enough tonight."

Orlando, which had six players score in double figures, held an 11-point lead to start the final period at 77-66.

But New Jersey won its third straight road game, largely because Armstrong and the rest of the reserves outscored Orlando's bench, 48-19.

"I thought we did a very good job on their main guys," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "But their bench absolutely killed us with 22-of-32 and 48 points. Darrell Armstrong, Bostjan Nachbar, Jason Collins and Malik Allen are the guys that turned the game. I thought they did a very good job."

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