Jefferson, Williams shine as Nets edge PacersFeb 24, 2008 - 4:41 AM By Joe Rizzo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) - Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter did not look like they missed Jason Kidd very much. Neither did Marcus Williams.
Jefferson scored 17 of his 36 points in the third quarter and paired with Carter for the decisive run that bridged halftime Saturday to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 102-91 victory over the Indiana Pacers in the finale of their home-and-home series.
Williams - Kidd's replacement - dished out a career-best 13 assists and added eight points and seven rebounds as the Nets improved to 2-1 since the trade that sent the star point guard to Dallas.
"Every time you play, it's your chance to show people that you're capable of playing," Williams said. "Coach (Lawrence Frank) talked to me a little bit and my teammates talked to me a little bit, so that was a little motivation. My intensity last game was not up."
"Marcus was phenomenal," Carter said. "He ran the show. He was patient, got guys the ball and took shots when he was open. We are going to need him to step up and bring it and play as consistent as possible. It's our job as veterans to help him through the tough times."
The main player New Jersey acquired in the deal, Devin Harris, remains sidelined with a sprained left ankle, leaving Williams in the starting lineup.
"If Marcus can continue to improve, it's a great situation," Frank said. "It puts the pressure on me to find him minutes."
"I have seen (Harris) play five times that's how many times I have played against him in my career," Jefferson said. "So it's tough for me to sit here and evaluate what it's like on a day-to-day basis. Is he a very talented young player? One hundred percent. Is he going to help our team? Without a doubt. But let's wait and see before we put expectations on people."
Josh Boone had 19 points and 13 rebounds for New Jersey, which won for the fifth time in its last seven games - all since Nenad Krstic returned to the frontcourt - and claimed its fourth straight home win to creep within a game of .500 for the season at the Izod Center.
Danny Granger scored 29 points for the Pacers, who won the front end on this home-and-home series on Friday, 113-103.
"Last night was a little better," Granger said. "We had more steals, we got our hands up more, but they just threw the ball right over our heads and had some more hoops. They only played a few games with Marcus Williams. He's not Jason Kidd, obviously, but I think he's going to be a very good point guard. When you have wings like Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter, you are always going to be in the game."
The Nets used an impressive 21-6 run that bridged the halves to turn a five-point deficit into a 59-49 lead with 10:10 left in the third. They closed the half with a 12-3 burst behind seven points from Carter, then Jefferson scored seven more in the second portion of the run following in the intermission.
After scoring 34 in the loss Friday, Jefferson had 10 points in the first half before exploding in the third on 6-of-10 shooting.
Indiana battled back in the fourth quarter, pulling within 96-91 on Granger's 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:22 left. With a chance to get them closer, Granger fired an airball from the right flank, and Boone followed with a pair of free throws with 59 seconds left to push the Nets' lead back to seven.
New Jersey native Troy Murphy, who finished with 13 points, jacked up another airball on the ensuing possession and Jefferson countered with two more from the line to make it 100-91.
"We wanted to catch them at the end," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "We got our tempo back, which is the reason why we won (Friday). We just couldn't knock down the open shots we had maybe a little leg-weary on back-to-back games. Ball pressure cures a lot of things. We didn't have ball pressure at the beginning of the third quarter."
Mike Dunleavy scored 19 points for the Pacers, a night after lighting up the Nets for 34.
NEW JERSEY 102 FINAL
Feb 23 9:55 PM
NEW JERSEY 78 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 23 9:23 PM
NEW JERSEY 50 HALFTIME
Feb 23 8:40 PM
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