Carter responds and Nets winFeb 11, 2008 - 2:56 AM By Joe Rizzo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) - The New Jersey Nets' fortunes during their disappointing season might have changed with one elbow to the head of Vince Carter.
Carter shook off the elbow Sunday to score 29 points and grab nine rebounds, and Jason Kidd added 13 points and 14 assists as the Nets won for just the third time in their last 16 games, a 101-82 victory over the Southwest Division-leading Dallas Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points and Josh Howard 16 for the Mavericks, who had their three-game winning streak halted and lost for the third time in their last 10.
With 8:23 left in the second quarter, play was halted after Carter took an elbow to the head from Brandon Bass. Play had continued up the court after the blow, with Carter writhing in pain on the floor behind the play until DeSagana Diop scored for the Mavericks.
Carter went to the locker room for roughly three minutes of game action and emerged from the locker room - and went right to the floor - without his trademark headband - at 5:21. He scored the Nets' next three baskets, closing them within 38-34 and keying a 15-4 run to halftime, at which New Jersey held a 46-40 lead.
"I'd prefer to stick with a different method (to get started)," Carter said of the elbow, which landed on his right jaw line but left his jaw sore on both sides. "I was seeing stars, stripes, little birds, everything. It was one of those things where you see it coming, but you just can't move fast enough.
"He hit me and I was just trying to hold on. I tried to take my time getting up, because I did not want to fall back down. I did not expect to go back in that fast."
Carter scored all but four of his points after sustaining the hit, before which he was 2-of-6 from the field. He did not stop after the intermission, closing a 9-0 burst to open the third quarter with a 23-footer at 9:19, pushing New Jersey's lead to 55-40, and finished 12-of-20 from the floor.
"When Vince came back, he went right into attack mode," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "He started to put the ball on the floor."
If not the elbow, then perhaps the return of Nenad Krstic to the frontcourt rotation began to make a difference. Krstic was playing his second game since missing the previous 31 to rehabilitate his left knee and had eight points and eight rebounds as the Nets won for the first time in four tries this season against the Southwest Division.
"It's great to have him back," Carter said. "Having his presence out there, his ability to shoot the ball and rebound is big for us, as well."
For the first time all season, the Nets looked like they were loose and having fun, with Kidd at his very best. Throughout the second half, Kidd was feeding Richard Jefferson and rookie Sean Williams for alley-oop dunks, and setting up Carter for leaping drives and jams with look-away and blind passes.
On the defensive side, the Nets held the Mavericks without a field goal for nearly a four-minute span in the middle of the fourth quarter, thwarting any thoughts of the collapses that have plagued their season.
The Nets limited Dallas to 36.5 percent (31-of-85) from the field in their third double-digit margin of victory this season.
"You go from losing nine games in a row and 12 of 14, to then playing good basketball," Frank said. "Every team in the league has had moments where they played really well. For us, we had two good stretches in the season."
With the loss, Dallas fell below .500 (12-13) on the road. They play Monday in Philadelphia, then host Portland and visit Phoenix before All-Star Weekend.
"We're just not there right now," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "We're not the only team that goes through it. If were the only team, then we wouldn't be bunched up in the West like it is right now. We're not that good that we just come in and lay down and play. We're not that good where we can just throw the ball all around the gym and wait for the fourth quarter to turn it on. We have to play every minute."
Nowitzki was 4-of-16 from the field and missed all four of his long-range shots as Dallas went 2-of-18 (11 percent) from the arc. He was harassed by the Nets' young frontcourt of Josh Boone and Williams, and never found a rhythm.
"We couldn't take good shots against the zone," Nowitzki said. "Against the zone, if we missed a long shot, that is going to put them in transition. I think we had some stupid turnovers that got them some layups. In the third and fourth quarters, we couldn't get it going again. We lost our focus."
Williams finished with 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench, while Boone added six and three.
"Josh and Sean, whoever was on him, made a conscious effort to be aggressive," Kidd said. "I think the biggest thing was trying to take a little starch out of him and make him work on the defensive end. They're two confident guys. Those guys are working everyday to get better."
NEW JERSEY 101 FINAL
Feb 10 8:26 PM
NEW JERSEY 77 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 10 7:51 PM
NEW JERSEY 46 HALFTIME
Feb 10 7:08 PM
NEW JERSEY 21 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 10 6:37 PM
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