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Career nights from Boone, Harris power Nets to victory

Mar 27, 2008 - 5:05 AM By Joe Rizzo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Josh Boone and Devin Harris each picked the same evening to have a career game.

Boone scored a career-best 26 points while Harris added 22 and a career-high 15 assists to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 124-117 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

Vince Carter also pulled down a season-high 14 rebounds and added 22 points for the Nets (31-41), who remained one-half game behind the Atlanta Hawks (31-40) for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Danny Granger's 3-pointer closed a 17-2 burst which bridged the halves and closed the Pacers within 70-69 early in the third quarter.

His two free throws with 4:54 remaining in the third finally brought Indiana even, 77-77, but Carter and Bostjan Nachbar responded with a basket and a 3-pointer to quickly restore the lead for the Nets, who did not trail thereafter.

"We had a tie; we were right there," Granger said. "Vince made a lot of big shots down the stretch. Every time we made a big run, he responded."

Four Nets starters scored 20 or more points, including Richard Jefferson, who finished right on the mark. Nachbar added 18 off the bench for the Nets, who shot 54 percent (43-of-79) from the field for the contest.

New Jersey had four players with 20 or more points for the first time since January 31, 2002.

In each game during its recent 4-1 stretch at the Izod Center, New Jersey has shot over 50 percent from the field.

"As bad as we may play on the road, we can always come back at home and bounce back," Carter said.

Mike Dunleavy scored 33 points and Granger had 19 to lead Indiana, which has lost two straight after a season-best, four-game winning streak but get another chance as the Nets complete their home-and-home series on Friday.

"We fought back in it and gave ourselves a chance," Dunleavy said. "I felt like once we made it close, we started taking bad shots and we gave them another big lead. It's tough, but we have them again Friday night."

The Nets exploded out of the gate with their highest-scoring quarter of the season, jumping to a 42-29 lead after 12 minutes. Harris and Boone had 11 points apiece and Jefferson added 10 as New Jersey went 15-of-22 (68 percent) from the field, including 5-of-7 from the arc.

Indiana averted an early blowout by converting 6-of-8 from beyond the arc.

"Josh is always a by-product of ball movement," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "When he scores, that means the ball is moving. Devin Harris did a good job of finding the open man, Richard Jefferson moved the ball well, as did Vince Carter. And when those three guys move it, guys like Josh Boone and Bostjan Nachbar have good nights."

"I think Josh did a great job in the first half just finding the (holes) in their defense and finishing for me," Harris said.

New Jersey tied a season high for points in a half en route to a 68-60 lead at the intermission, with Boone's 21 first-half points leading the way. He made his first nine shots and nearly had eclipsed his previous career high of 22, set against the Pacers two days short of a year ago.

"(Sharing the spotlight) doesn't even matter, that makes no difference whatsoever," Boone said. "I'm just worried about winning and getting to the playoffs right now. Twenty-six points, that's great. But it really came from my teammates. I was catching the ball two feet from the basket every time."

New Jersey increased the lead to 98-88 as Marcus Williams nailed a 3-pointer from about 34 feet at the third-quarter buzzer.

While Indiana clawed to within 113-109 midway through the fourth on Granger's four-point play, Carter once again answered from long range to push away the Pacers.

After picking up his fifth foul on reach-in midway through the third, Granger fouled out with 4:28 remaining in the fourth. New Jersey immediately capitalized as Harris drove for a bucket and Nachbar hit a 3-pointer to make it 121-111 just 76 seconds later.

"I did (think we were back in it after the four-point play)," Granger said. "Then a phantom foul call on the other end basically took me out of the game. It's one of those things where you want to complain, but you can't do anything but go to the bench."

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