Nets Charge On Behind Carterís Big Night
New Jersey 96, Orlando 85
ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 21 (Ticker) -- Red-hot Vince Carter made sure the New Jersey Nets continue their winning ways.
Carter scored 20 of his 32 points in the second half as the Nets extended their season-high winning streak to four games with a 96-85 victory over the slumping Orlando Magic.
"Vince is an elite player. It's not like he's doing anything out of character," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. "His commitment to attack the basket is shown with his free throws. He's a superstar, a great player and we're lucky to have him."
The Magic trailed, 76-69, before going on an 8-0 spurt. Jameer Nelson capped the run with a steal from Jason Kidd and a one-handed dunk for a 77-76 lead with 8:23 remaining.
The Nets responded with a 20-8 run as Carter scored 10 points, most of them against the smaller DeShawn Stevenson.
"We pride ourselves in giving us a chance to win the game in the last six minutes," said Carter, who added seven boards and five assists in another strong all-around game. "It isn't always about scoring. It's what is best for the team and whether I get a shot or create a shot for somebody else. That's been my approach the last couple of games.
"I think a veteran team never panics and we did not panic," said Kidd, who had nine points and six assists. "They made the run we expected. We answered it and kept being aggressive.
"Our comfort level with one another has gotten better the past few games. I think we were being passive the first month of the season. The big thing is we understand we have to play defense to beat anybody."
Lamond Murray drained a 3-pointer from the corner to give New Jersey a 94-81 lead with 2:19 left. Carter's two-handed reverse alley-oop jam from Kidd put the game out of reach.
"Defensively, I think we had a great effort," said Murray, who had three steals. "That's what allowed us to stay in the game when they made their run and we took over in the end."
Richard Jefferson scored 18 points and Murray added 11 off the bench for New Jersey, which shot 44 percent (34-of-76) from the floor despite making just 5-of-17 3-pointers.
"I don't know about expectations, but I think it's progress," Frank said. "You never know how long it's going to take, and you never actually arrive. But we're starting to see what we need to do to win."
Steve Francis and Grant Hill scored 16 points apiece and Dwight Howard had 14 and 15 rebounds for the Magic, who made just 2-of-13 from the arc.
"This is the second game in a row where offensive execution down the stretch had hurt us," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "I think it's us struggling with our offense. I don't think it's so much what other teams are doing to us."