Carter, Kidd Hand Bucks Another Loss
New Jersey 95, Milwaukee 83
MILWAUKEE, April 9 (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Nets wasted little time getting back in the win column. The Milwaukee Bucks must be wondering when they will get that feeling again.
Vince Carter scored 25 points and Jason Kidd recorded his eighth triple-double of the season as the Nets coasted to a 95-83 victory over the Bucks in a preview of a potential first-round playoff matchup.
"It shows you the character in that locker room," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. "We set the tone early."
New Jersey (47-29) climbed within three games of Miami in the race for the second seed in the Eastern Conference while Milwaukee (37-40) saw its lead over seventh-place Indiana reduced to one-half game. Both Chicago and Philadelphia are 1 1/2 games behind the Bucks.
If the standings stay the same, the teams will meet in the first round. Still, Frank did not see this as a statement game.
"It's not a message," he said. "The playoffs and regular season are two separate entities. It was just us getting up after being knocked down yesterday and trying to get a win."
Nenad Krstic scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half and Carter added 13 as the Nets claimed a 49-42 lead. The Bucks pulled within 53-48 early in the third period before Carter's foul shot kicked off an 11-0 run.
Carter and Kidd both buried 3-pointers during the burst with Kidd's capping it for a 64-48 lead with 5:05 left in the period. Kidd hit back-to-back shots from the arc moments later as New Jersey claimed a 72-52 advantage.
The closest Milwaukee got in the fourth was 93-83 with just over a minute left, but Kidd threw an alley-oop to Carter to seal it and notch his 75th career triple-double. Kidd finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
"We didn't play well enough or hard enough to beat a team that's one of the hottest in the league," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "Getting down to them by twenty, that's a big hole."
T.J. Ford scored 19 points off the bench to pace the Bucks (37-40), who are three games below .500 for the first time this season.
Milwaukee, which trailed by as many as 21 points early in the second quarter, shot 37.5 percent (36-of-96) from the floor and made just six free throws to New Jersey's 23.
"When you're not shooting the ball well, you have to defend a little harder and we just couldn't quite get there," Stotts said.
The Bucks were able to force 20 turnovers but were outrebounded, 56-39.