Carter, Kidd Lead Nets Past Pacers
New Jersey 97, Indiana 92
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey, Jan. 16 (Ticker) -- Vince Carter and Jason Kidd were more than enough for the New Jersey Nets against the Indiana Pacers, who didn't have enough without Jermaine O'Neal.
Carter scored 24 points and Kidd added 23 and 10 assists as the Nets snapped their three-game losing streak with a 97-92 front-running victory over the Pacers.
"Regardless of whether (Jefferson) was back or not, we just weren't happy with our effort (on the road trip)," Carter said. "That's what we wanted to correct - we wanted the effort level to be there."
"We had energy, we got stops, we weren't just going through the motions," Kidd said. "We felt like we didn't play up to our abilities on the road, especially in the last two games."
Carter and Kidd combined to make 16-of-31 shots, including all six of New Jersey's 3-pointers. At least one of the superstars had a hand in every key surge for the Nets, who evened the season series at one win each.
Meanwhile, Indiana struggled without O'Neal, who sprained his ankle in the first half of Saturday's win at Chicago and is expected to miss two games. Rookie forward Danny Granger started in his place and scored just two points.
"It does affect us not having Jermaine O'Neal for sure, but if you don't have him, you have to find a way to win without him," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "Right now, that has got to mean playing at full capacity all the time and playing with some real efficiency."
Carter had a layup, 3-pointer and finger roll in a 9-2 burst that closed the first quarter and gave the Nets a 31-19 lead.
"Sometimes when a great player is not in the lineup, that's when a team is most dangerous because you play together and you play loose," Carter said. "That was in our mind before the game, and our goal was to jump on them early."
The Pacers got within 37-35 before the Nets put together a 20-5 surge. Carter had six points and four assists, Kidd buried consecutive 3-pointers and Krstic sank a pair of hoops, including a hook that made it 57-40 with 1:21 to go.
"Being shorthanded, we still have to come out and play but we let it get away from us," Pacers point guard Anthony Johnson said. "Being down 17, we dug ourselves too deep of a hole."
Indiana closed to 60-54 on a short banker by Johnson with 8:26 remaining in the third quarter. But Kidd had two more 3-pointers around a jumper and added a pair of assists as New Jersey rebuilt the advantage to 76-61 late in the period.
"Vince found me a couple of times, they left me a couple of times, and I made them," said Kidd, who made a season-high five 3-pointers.
The Pacers made one more push, closing to 81-75 with 6:52 left on a tough jumper by Fred Jones, who scored 16 points. However, Carter found Krstic for a jumper and had a pair of inside buckets to rebuild the lead to 12 points.
"He always ends up with three or four guys on him, but he makes the right plays," Kidd said of Carter.
Jefferson had 11 points and 10 rebounds in 40-plus minutes. His back stiffened up two minutes into the road trip opener at Toronto and he missed the next three games.
"I felt good," said Jefferson, who made just 4-of-13 shots. "It was a little tight and a little sore, but it felt good being out on the floor."
"Just his presence out there made a difference," Carter said. "He played well for someone who hadn't run in seven days."
Krstic had his best offensive game in nearly two months as the Nets took advantage of O'Neal's absence with 36 points in the paint, including 32 in the first three quarters.
Austin Croshere had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Johnson scored 16 points for the Pacers, who committed 11 of their 14 turnovers in the first half.
"Obviously, when you don't have (O'Neal), the margin for error becomes even smaller and there is no room for mistakes," Croshere said. "We had a lot of turnovers in the first half that really cost us and opened up the game for them."