Nets Top Grizzlies for 10th Straight Victory
New Jersey 86, Memphis 74
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., March 29 (Ticker) -- Vince Carter has led the New Jersey Nets on a 10-game winning streak before, but not one quite as impressive.
Carter scored 10 of his 23 points in the decisive second quarter and Richard Jefferson had 27 and nine rebounds as the Nets matched their longest run of the season with their 10th straight win, an 86-74 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
"(The winning streak) is better in the sense that it's at the right time of year," Nets point guard Jason Kidd said. "The big thing is the quality of the teams. Everybody is playing for something, jockeying for position, and we've made a stand. Hopefully, we can keep getting better and not get satisfied."
"We're just consistent right now, playing hard, grinding it out," Carter said. "Whatever kind of basketball needs to be played on any given night, we're playing it."
Carter has scored at least 20 points in every game during the streak and 15 straight overall - three shy of the franchise record he set last season.
"I just play," said Carter, who was unaware of his scoring streak. "The goal is to come out and set the tone for the team and be efficient. We have so many weapons, I just try to get us started offensively and then be patient."
Carter took over in the second quarter against Memphis, scoring nine points during a 22-5 run that turned a seven-point edge into a nearly insurmountable lead. He had 17 points in the first half while Jefferson and Nenad Krstic combined for 21 on 8-of-10 shooting.
The Grizzlies had shaved a 13-point lead to 29-22 with 9:40 left in the quarter, but went without a basket for more than 8 1/2 minutes.
The Nets took advantage by making 6-of-7 shots late in the period, capped by Carter's thunderous fast-break dunk off a one-handed bounce pass from Kidd, to take a 47-27 lead with 85 seconds left.
In the first half, Memphis managed just 31 points on 34 percent (12-of-35) shooting. It was held to a season-low 13 points in the second quarter.
"They executed their offense very well and didn't give us good looks at the basket," Memphis coach Mike Fratello saud. "It was a combination of their defense being outstanding and us not taking shots that are good for us."
Carter did not score in the third quarter but it hardly mattered as Jefferson had 10, opening the second half with a jumper and two free throws to give the Nets their largest lead at 54-31.
Memphis staged a late rally but did not get closer than double digits despite holding New Jersey to 37 percent (13-of-35) in the second half.
"We weren't ready," Memphis forward Pau Gasol said. "We didn't come out ready to compete at their level. It was frustrating because we weren't clicking from the start."
Krstic finished with 14 points and eight rebounds and Kidd handed out 12 assists for the Nets, who have held their last three opponents under 75 points.
"The big thing is not to look at it like we're peaking," Kidd said. "But that we're getting better and knowing what it takes."
New Jersey (42-28) moved 10 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division and is on the verge of clinching its fourth division title in five years.
Gasol scored 21 points after posting a franchise-record 44 in Tuesday's loss to Seattle and Bobby Jackson had 18 off the bench as Memphis (41-31) fell one game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for fifth place in the Western Conference.
Grizzlies second-leading scorer Mike Miller was limited to seven points. Third-leading scorer Eddie Jones was held scoreless for the first time this season, missing all seven shots.