EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey, Jan. 21 (Ticker) -- Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets quickly ended any thoughts the Boston Celtics entertained of a three-game winning streak.
Carter scored 18 of his 25 points in the first half as the Nets built a huge lead and cruised to a 103-83 victory over the Celtics in the back end of a home-and-home series.

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New Jersey got off to a sluggish start in Friday's 99-96 setback at Boston, but Carter prevented it from happening again with 14 points in the opening quarter. The Nets never trailed, leading by as many as 11 before blowing it open in the second period.

"We weren't pleased about our start in the first game and felt that was the difference in (Friday's) game," Carter said. "Tonight it was about energy and effort, and that's what we showed right from the tip."

"You knew they were going to come at you. It was a no-brainer," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "I don't think we understood that. Last night we came out ready to play and we were focused. We talked about that tonight, but they did it."

New Jersey scored the first eight points of the second quarter, capped by a three-point play from Nenad Krstic that made it 39-25 at the 10:08 mark.

Boston made just 5-of-19 shots in the period, missing five straight during a 12-3 run New Jersey used to build a 61-42 cushion in the final minute. Five different Nets scored during the burst, highlighted by Carter taking a pass from Jason Kidd in the lane for a thunderous one-handed dunk.

"We played as soft as a team can be," Rivers said. "They were tougher mentally, physically and there was no way we were going to win that game."

Kidd collected seven points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the first half as New Jersey scored 34 points in the paint and 19 fast-break points en route to an 18-point lead.

"We got off to a rough start up there and we had to get off to a good start," said Kidd, who had just one rebound and one assist after halftime. "We got a lead kept our lead."

"That's kind of Jason's way," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "He imposed his will on the game as did Vince. It was a good bounce-back win."

The Nets dominated the third period, making 8-of-14 shots and 14-of-16 free throws. They shot 51 percent (31-of-61) through three quarters and built a 91-62 lead before resting their starters with the game in hand.

Krstic added 16 points and nine rebounds and Jacque Vaughn scored a season-high 13 off the bench for New Jersey, which extended its home winning streak to eight games - matching the fourth longest in franchise history.

"We feel we're a good team and we always want to protect home, but we have to do it on the road as well," Carter said.

The Nets begin a four-game road trip in Utah on Monday.

Paul Pierce scored 20 points to pace the Celtics (16-24), who have won two in a row just twice this season.

"We knew they were going to come out with the sense of urgency they did," Pierce said. "A team is not going to let you come in and do the same thing as the night before, especially on their home court."

The Celtics shot just 37 percent (22-of-60) through three quarters and 42 percent (31-of-74) overall as they lost for the sixth time in their last seven visits here.

"It was just an awful game for us," Rivers said. "They came prepared and we didn't, and that's the coach's fault."