Carter’s 51 Leads Netsí Comeback in Miami
New Jersey 95, Miami 88
MIAMI, Dec. 23 (Ticker) -- Vince Carter got tired of losing to the Miami Heat.
Carter scored 51 points - tying a career-high - and caught fire in the third quarter as the New Jersey Nets rallied for a 95-88 victory over the Heat, their fifth straight win.
"I was trying to set the tone for my teammates," Carter said. "I wasn't trying to take over the game, but I was being aggressive because that's what my team needed from me tonight. When I do that, it frees up other things for the guys."
"I'm glad that Vince Carter is a New Jersey Net," coach Lawrence Frank said. "He is a very, very special player. Look at what he has done the last six games, and that is a direct correlation to how hard he works."
Carter matched his career high set in 2000 with Toronto against Phoenix. He has been at his best lately, having scored 22, 34, 25, 35 and 32 points in five games heading into Friday night.
"I'm glad he's on our side. He's playing like one of the best in the league right now," Nets guard Jason Kidd said.
In the third quarter, Carter scored 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting with two 3-pointers. His shot from behind the arc gave New Jersey a 60-58 lead with 3:27 remaining.
The Nets, who had lost 10 straight to the Heat counting a four-game sweep in last season's playoffs, closed the period on a 12-2 run and took a 69-60 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
"Vince Carter took us on his shoulder and did a phenomenal job," Frank said.
Miami battled back in the fourth and got within 78-74 on Gary Payton's 3-pointer with 3:51 left but failed to stop New Jersey and Carter from scoring down the stretch.
"Vince Carter basically beat us," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "He was unbelievable tonight, not just as a shot-maker, but also in drawing fouls."
Kidd added 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists for New Jersey (14-12), which managed to overcome a 12-point first-quarter deficit and inched past Philadelphia into first place in the Atlantic Division.
Shaquille O'Neal led Miami with 24 points and 14 boards. Superstar leading scorer Dwyane Wade struggled from the floor, making 4-of-20 shots for 17 points and adding seven assists.
The Heat shot 37 percent (30-of-82) overall and were outscored, 33-19, in the third period after holding a 51-46 halftime lead.
"It's everybody's fault," backup center Alonzo Mourning said. "One of the things we have taken a lot of pride in since I first put on a Heat uniform is to stop people. That has been our M.O. and we have to get back to that."