for this game

Nets' rookies provide rude return for Jefferson

Feb 4, 2009 - 5:32 AM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Despite a reminder about their past, the New Jersey Nets gave a nod toward the future.

Vince Carter recorded his fifth career triple-double with 15 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds as the Nets spoiled Richard Jefferson's return to IZOD Center with a 99-85 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

"I knew I wasn't making shots, but I just tried to make plays for the team, be aggressive, shoot the shots if I'm open but get to the line, get in the paint and find guys," Carter said.

"They did a great job of closing the paint down, so you just have to sacrifice some and find the open guy."

Rookie Brook Lopez had 22 points and 12 rebounds and Ryan Anderson, another first-year player, collected 19 and seven for the Nets, who shot 10-of-20 from the arc.

"I thought Ryan just did a great job," Lopez said. "Like I said I think he's probably the best rebounder on the team.

"In terms of just crashing the glass, especially on the offensive end and picks up those easy points. I guess between myself and him we both did a great job boxing out defensively, making it easier for us in transition."

They held the Bucks to just 36.5 percent (27-of-74) shooting despite a stellar homecoming for Jefferson, who scored 27 points by hitting 7-of-16 shots from the field.

Jefferson spent the first seven years of his career with the Nets - helping the franchise to a pair of Eastern Conference titles - before being traded to Milwaukee in the offseason as part of the deal that brought Yi Jianlian to New Jersey.

"Being here was good, all the fans in New Jersey have always shown me a lot of respect, even when I first got into the league, and it was good to be here," Jefferson said.

"Unfortunately, I didn't do enough, we didn't do enough to come away with the win. That would have been great."

He struggled in the first meeting with his old mates, totaling 13 points on 3-of-15 shooting but the Bucks managed a 104-102 triumph on January 9.

Carter, along with Jefferson and Jason Kidd, formed a star-studded trio which never could get New Jersey back to the NBA Finals despite perennial trips to the playoffs.

With Jefferson and Kidd both traded away in the past year, Carter has assumed the role of team leader for the Nets, who had lost eight of nine games before Saturday's win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

"But overall, I think it was a good building block from that Philly game," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. "I thought our guys did a nice job."

It was the rookie tandem who stole the show in this one.

Lopez and Anderson combined to shoot 17-of-24 from the field and grab 19 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end.

Both were drafted in the first round last June, with Lopez taken 10th and Anderson 11 spots later.

Lopez, who has shown flashes of dominant play this season, took over against the Sixers on Saturday, when Carter was forced to the bench with a sprained ankle. Lopez had 24 points and 17 rebounds in that contest.

"They were big," said Nets guard Devin Harris, who had 19 points and seven assists. "When we get that the kind of effort from both of them it takes a lot of pressure off of myself, Vince and the other guys.

"We just kind of played through them and ride it out until we needed to take over. Both of those guys playing well together hasn't happened in a while."

New Jersey carried that confidence into this one, as five players scored in double figures - including four starters.

Ramon Sessions scored 19 points for Milwaukee, which fell to 2-3 after losing guard Michael Redd for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

The Bucks also played without center Andrew Bogut (back problems).

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