Vince Carter outscored Kobe Bryant, but Bryant's team came away a winner in the first meeting of the season between the two superstars.

Carter and the New Jersey Nets (11-14) look to earn a split of the season series when they face Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers (17-9) on Friday night at Continental Airlines Arena.

Neither player was at his best when the teams met Nov. 26 at Staples Center.

Carter shot 6-of-14 from the field, but finished with 21 points and added 11 rebounds. Bryant scored only 19 points on 8-for-24 shooting, but had 10 assists and the Lakers outscored the Nets 30-18 in the third quarter to win 99-93.

Carter, averaging 26.4 points, will be going up against one of the league's premier scorers for the second straight game.

The Nets star broke out of his recent scoring slump Wednesday with 38 points on 10-for-18 shooting in a 113-111 win over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After 37- and 36-point efforts in victories over Memphis and Milwaukee last week, Carter managed only 35 points on 12-for-48 shooting in his next three games before Wednesday's outburst.

``I guess the shooting gods were on my side tonight,'' Carter said. ``I knew I just had to keep playing, keep shooting and eventually it would go in.''

It was Carter's second 38-point game of the season, and he scored a season-high 41 points in a 112-107 win over Philadelphia on Dec. 2.

``I said, 'He's going to go for 50,''' teammate Jason Kidd said. ``He came out aggressive and you could just see he was in tune tonight.''

The Nets, who despite their losing record still lead the weak Atlantic Division by one-half game over Toronto and Boston, will be looking for their third straight victory Friday. New Jersey is 10-3 when scoring 100 points this season.

Carter, averaging 22.0 points in eight matchups with Bryant, got help from New Jersey's reserves Wednesday night. Five bench players scored, and the backups shot a combined 10-for-20 for the Nets.

Bryant has averaged nearly 30 points in eight games against Carter. He scored 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting in Los Angeles' 111-94 victory at Minnesota on Wednesday.

That performance came one night after Bryant - averaging 28.1 points per game - was held to 19 on 6-for-19 from the field and fouled out for the first time in more than year in a 94-89 loss at Chicago.

Like Carter, Bryant was helped out by a fine effort from his team's bench.

Vladimir Radmanovic had 17 points and Maurice Evans added 15 as the Lakers reserves outscored the Timberwolves' 51-19. Los Angeles is getting 29.6 points per game from the bench this season.

``They came in and gave us a huge, huge boost,'' Bryant said. ``It was really a great effort.''

The Lakers need those players to step up with forward Lamar Odom (17.5 ppg) out up to six weeks with a sprained right knee. Los Angeles is 2-3 since he was injured Dec. 12.

Los Angeles' November win over New Jersey came after it had dropped two straight games against the Nets.


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