EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., April 25 (Ticker) --Vince Carter may not
have been fazed by criticism, but Jermaine O'Neal is certainly bothered by the officiating.
Carter scored 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting as the New Jersey
Nets evened their Eastern Conference first-round series with a
90-75 Game 2 victory over the Indiana Pacers, who again were
hampered by foul trouble to their All-Star forward.
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Carter was criticized for his shot selection after making just
12-of-33 shots in Sunday's Game 1 loss. But he came out
attacking the basket Tuesday, helping the Nets open a big lead
before dominating the fourth quarter to turn back a rally by the
"I thought I had a (good) game last time but (the shots) just
didn't fall," Carter said. "I play the game for my team and if
it's good enough for them, that's all I care about."
"It was unfair for him to be criticized for the 33 shots because
we put so much pressure on him to carry us," Nets point guard
Jason Kidd said. "He's been focused. He wanted a playoff win."
O'Neal was stifled for the second straight game, playing less
than 33 minutes as he was plagued by fouls, including two charging calls. He received two personal fouls and a technical in the
first quarter and picked up his fourth foul less than a minute into the third period.
"I don't understand it," he said. "When I use the same moves
I've made in the last four or five years that have made me an
All-Star and (the referees) honor a flop. They're holding on to
me. You have to find a way (to play through it) and I will
find a way."
"We can't afford not to have him for 35-40 minutes in a playoff
game," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "I'm not going to
criticize the officials because they're working hard, but it is
something that needs to be looked at."
New Jersey shot 59 percent (10-of-17) from the floor in the
first quarter and was led by Carter, who scored 14 points on 5-of-6
shooting and continually attacked the defense.
"It wasn't really a chip (on my shoulder), just focus," Carter said. "I wanted
to get my first win. They brought me here not to win 49
(regular-season) games, but to win playoff games."
Richard Jefferson scored 13 of his 21 points in the third period
to give the Nets a 73-53 cushion entering the fourth quarter -
which the Pacers opened with an 18-6 run, pulling within 79-71
on a fast-break dunk by Jackson with 3:32 left.
Carter took over with five consecutive points, making a
technical free throw with 3:08 left and nailing a jumper 11
seconds later. He added a dunk off a long pass from Kidd with
2:31 left for an 84-71 cushion.
New Jersey made just seven baskets in the fourth quarter, but Carter was involved in all of them. He sank five shots and assisted on the other two buckets, jumpers by
Krstic and Kidd.
Krstic had 20 points and 10 rebounds for his first playoff
double-double and Kidd fell four points shy of his ninth career
postseason triple-double with 11 rebounds and 13 assists for the
Nets, who snapped a seven-game postseason losing streak.
"The first one is always the toughest," Kidd said. "We haven't
won a playoff game for some time. It means a lot to us to get
one under our belt and now we can move on."
New Jersey shot 47 percent (33-of-71) and held Indiana to just
35 percent (28-of-79) in a physical game that featured four
"The first game we were more passive and tonight we came out
with the intention of playing defense for 48 minutes," Kidd
said. "(The physical play) is what the playoffs are all about.
It was expected."
Former Net Anthony Johnson scored 17 points and Fred Jones added
13 off the bench for Indiana, which hosts Game 3 on