CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 21 (Ticker) -- Richard Jefferson continues to carry the New Jersey Nets on his shoulders until Vince Carter arrives.

Jefferson scored 17 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets ended a three-game losing streak by holding off the Charlotte Bobcats, 94-91.

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The newly acquired Carter, who has yet to play for the Nets after his trade from the Toronto Raptors, was on the bench in street clothes, recovering from a strained Achilles tendon.

"I really thought our guys showed a great deal of mental toughness and resiliency tonight," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We really had efforts from everyone."

Jefferson, averaging 26.5 points in his last six games, scored 12 of New Jersey's first 13 points in the final period, including a rare four-point play to give the Nets a 77-68 lead with 9:41 remaining.

"It seems like in the second half, teams start to forget about me a little bit," Jefferson said. "I get open looks, or they relax a little bit and don't really pay as much attention to me."

Steve Smith had back-to-back baskets to help Charlotte cut the deficit to 78-77 before Jefferson scored six more points, including a four-point possession to put the Nets on top, 84-77.

"We didn't make the plays down the stretch," Charlotte guard Kareem Rush said. "And we missed some easy shots. That's the way it goes sometimes. But we have to bounce back and get ready for Houston tomorrow."

Nets rookie Nenad Krstic, who had his first double-double by halftime with 13 points and 12 rebounds, was ejected in the third quarter when he knocked down Gerald Wallace with an elbow to the chest after grabbing a rebound.

"I have a hard time believing that you get thrown out for that," Frank said. "But I guess that's the literal interpretation of the rule. I'm not going to question the official's interpretation of the rule. I just felt it was little bit unfair to throw him out of the game."

The Bobcats shot a season-low 52 percent (15-of-29) from the free-throw line.

"We missed a lot of free throws at crucial times," Bobcats guard Brevin Knight said. "That made it difficult for us to get over the hump in the fourth quarter."

Rush came off the bench to score a season-high 23 points for Charlotte, which had won two in a row. Rookie Emeka Okafor, who was held scoreless in the first half, extended his streak of consecutive double-doubles to 13 with 10 points and 11 rebounds for Charlotte.

"At times like these, we understand and move on," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "This is one of the few basketball games we have played where we were not ready to play. New Jersey, I'm sure, would like to see us frequently."

The loss snapped Charlotte's five-game home winning streak.