EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 22 (Ticker) -- Richard Jefferson's
career night ended with a dramatic basket.
Jefferson scored a career-high 42 points, including an alley-oop
layup with eight-tenths of a second left, as the New Jersey
Nets edged the Cleveland Cavaliers, 92-90.
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New Jersey held a media briefing prior to its first home game
since trading for Vince Carter
, a five-time All-Star who came from
Toronto on Friday in exchange for Alonzo Mourning
, Aaron Williams
and a pair of first-round draft picks.
Sidelined due to a strained Achilles tendon, Carter was on the
bench and received a huge ovation from the crowd before watching
his new team outlast the Cavaliers.
Jefferson was a dominant force, making 12-of-20 shots from the
floor and a career-high 16 free throws on 17 attempts. He
surpassed his previous career high of 39 points at New York on
March 28, 2003, capping the performance in dramatic fashion.
"It's not about points, it's about wins," Jefferson said. "I
had 38 against Toronto (on Sunday) and I was (ticked) off
because we lost. Winning is what this team is all about."
The game was tied, 90-90, when Cleveland star swingman
missed a leaner over Jefferson with about two seconds
left. Rodney Buford grabbed the rebound and called timeout with
1.5 seconds remaining.
inbounded the ball to a wide-open Jefferson, who
caught it at the rim and casually dropped it in. Jason Kidd
the screen that freed Jefferson, causing confusion between
James and teammate Jeff McInnis
"It was an unbelievable pass," Jefferson said. "(Smith) put it
so on the money, you get kind of nervous when you catch it.
Jason made a great pick. He could probably stab someone in the
back and they're not going to call a foul on him."
"It's a lack of communication, that's all," Cleveland coach Paul
Silas said. "We were supposed to switch and didn't switch it.
We didn't execute defensively and that cost us the game."
Following a timeout, James inbounded to former Net
, who hit the rim on a potential winning 3-pointer at the
Buford added a career-best 22 points for the Nets, who beat the
Cavaliers at home for a sixth straight time.
"We're really starting to become a team in a sense that
obviously we are shorthanded," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said.
"For the second straight night, Rodney Buford
was very good.
It's just the essence of everyone helping each other out."
James collected 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists but
was called for traveling twice down the stretch. He complained
to referee Mike Davis and was whistled for a technical foul with
"I've been doing those moves since I started playing basketball
and they've never been a travel," James said. "I've been doing
it all year and they call traveling now? I thought they gave an
extra step in the NBA."
McInnis finished with 17 points and Drew Gooden
had 14 and 11
rebounds for the Cavaliers, who shot just 38 percent (32-of-84).
Cleveland jumped out to an early 12-point lead, but the New
Jersey closed the first half with 22-2 run. The Cavaliers
missed their final 11 shots of the first half and faced a 49-38
Cleveland came back from a 12-point deficit by bridging the
final two quarters with an 18-4 run to reclaim the lead. James
scored 15 points in the third period, which he capped with a
3-pointer at the buzzer to pull the Cavaliers within 68-67.
"It's disappointing because we fought so hard to get back in the
game," James said. "They played well, but this is another one
we let slip away. As hard as we fought, that last basket was