Carter, Defense Lead Nets Past Bobcats
New Jersey 97, Charlotte 84
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 7 (Ticker)-- Vince Carter's ankle appears to be healthy.
Carter scored 23 points and the New Jersey Nets finally showed an ability to get stops in a 97-84 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
However, Carter returned to the state he starred in as a collegian to help the Nets bounce back. He made 10-of-21 shots and grabbed seven rebounds in 38 minutes.
"My knee was feeling fine," Carter said. "I didn't think about it. It's the best I've felt offensively (this season). I just went out there and played basketball tonight."
Carter got the Nets off to a quick start, tallying 10 points in the opening quarter while the Bobcats looked sluggish coming off a four-game West Coast road trip.
"Vince is a tough guy," Nets forward Richard Jefferson said. "We really needed him to come up on this road trip. He's a team player and will do whatever he can to help this ballclub."
After the Nets quickly squandered 45-37 halftime lead, Carter and Jefferson each scored six points in a 20-5 surge that gave New Jersey the lead for good.
"Those first couple of minutes we were just going through the motions," New Jersey guard Jason Kidd said. "It was a group effort that we tried to pick up the pace and speed up the game and that was to our benefit. We're at our best in the open court."
Jefferson added 21 points, Nenad Krstic 17 and Kidd 11 and 11 assists for the Nets, who did see their lead again reduced to 79-74 with 7:12 remaining.
But Kidd drilled a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, Carter had a basket and Jefferson split a pair of free throws as the Nets rebuilt the lead to double digits.
"I feel comfortable shooting the ball," Kidd said. "But I do better when I don't have to think about it. I had no choice on that one. You miss some, you make some, and that one happened to go in and that helped us keep pushing forward."
"This win was big tonight," Carter said. "As a team in our last game we didn't play as well. We didn't show our potential as a basketball team and tonight everybody's mentality was to be aggressive on both ends of the floor and attack."
The Nets, who have struggled defensively, held an opponent under 90 points for just the third time in 17 games. Charlotte shot just 38 percent (32-of-84) and made 1-of-7 attempts from the arc against a New Jersey team that has allowed a league-high 122 3-pointers this season.
"I think the defensive effort and the defensive intent was great," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We were very, very sharp. Guys really helped each other. As a team, to hold a team to 38 percent is great."
Brevin Knight scored 23 points and Primoz Brezec added 11 for Charlotte, which matched a season high with its fifth straight loss.
"This was one of those 82 where it really wouldn't have mattered what we were trying to do," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We kept trying. We cut it to three, we cut it to two. At some point if you have to keep coming back like that against guys that have those kind of weapons, it's inevitable that they are going to take off on you."
The Bobcats were without guard Kareem Rush, their second-leading scorer who was inactive for the second consecutive game with a sprained index finger.
"You've got to be able to come in and do something different if someone's not there," Knight said. "Other guys have to pick it up. Kareem is our long-range shooter, but we have to be able to do other things."