Carter Injured as Nets Lose to Pacers
Indiana 101, New Jersey 91
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Feb. 26 (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Nets quickly went down after Vince Carter went out.
Carter left with a hamstring cramp in the first quarter and the Nets never recovered in a disappointing 101-91 loss to the Indiana Pacers, who got a terrific team effort in their first road win in nearly six weeks.
"We had a whole scheme set up to double-team him," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "He goes out of the game, it certainly changes the complexion of the game for their team."
With 2:55 remaining in the first quarter and the Nets leading, 16-15, Carter - who is 13th in the NBA in scoring at 24.1 points per game - came up hobbling after missing a layup. He walked off under his own power but did not return, taking New Jersey's four-game winning streak with him.
"When I went up, I just felt a grab and I didn't want it to tear," Carter said. "I'm hoping everything is OK and I can play (Monday in Atlanta)."
"Right now it's a sore hamstring and we'll just evaluate it again (Monday)," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said.
The Pacers took complete advantage, grabbing the lead for good at 24-22 on a 3-pointer by Jones with 10:37 left in the second quarter. Jones scored 11 points and Stojakovic 10 in the period, when Indiana made 12-of-21 shots and stormed to a 57-44 halftime lead.
Without their superstar and top scorer, the Nets fell behind by 15 points in the third quarter before pulling within 75-70 entering the final period.
"It has happened before, and they're missing Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley, so you can't make excuses for missing a player," said Nets forward Richard Jefferson, who had 23 points and 10 assists.
A 3-pointer and scoop shot by Jason Kidd cut the deficit to 85-80 with 6:10 to play. New Jersey had a chance to get closer, but Kidd's 3-pointer rimmed out. Jones made a 3-pointer and drive around a jumper by Anthony Johnson to rebuild the lead to 92-80 with 3:58 remaining.
The Pacers led by at least seven points thereafter as rookie Danny Granger had a jumper and four free throws in the final 99 seconds.
Granger and Johnson scored 13 points each and Johnson added 10 assists.
"I'm a rookie, but most of the times I'll be in there during crunch time, so I have to make sure I come through," Granger said.
Stephen Jackson and David Harrison added 12 points apiece and Jeff Foster pulled down 16 rebounds for the Pacers, who shot 48 percent (35-of-73) and held a 47-33 advantage on the glass.
Jones would have been matched up with Carter and took full advantage of his absence. The reserve guard made 9-of-16 shots, including two 3-pointers, and pulled down seven rebounds.
"Not having to extend so much energy guarding (Carter) tonight gave us a little more energy to use on the offensive end," Jones said. "You have to set your defensive presence toward him."
Indiana ended a six-game road slide dating to January 14 at Chicago. Overall, the Pacers (28-25) have won seven of their last 10 games.
Kidd had 19 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds for the Nets, who shot 43 percent (35-of-81).
"Vince is a big part of the team and with him being out, we all have to pick it up," Kidd said. "And it wasn't so much the offensive end, it was the defense, and they were getting layup after layup. We have to look ahead and re-assess what we have to accomplish on defense."