New Jersey 101, Atlanta 86

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., March 4 (AP) -- Vince Carter and Jason Kidd left the scoring to Bostjan Nachbar and anyone else who was open on the New Jersey Nets.

Nachbar hit a career-best seven 3-pointers and scored 26 points, and Carter and Kidd combined for 18 assists to help the Nets overcome some poor second-quarter play that had their fans booing in a 101-86 victory over the injury-ravaged Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

"I just had a lot of open shots,'' said Nachbar, who had a career-best 29 points last month. "I was taking my time. I don't think they did a good job of covering the high pick and roll, that's why I was always open. The guys did a good job of getting me the ball and I was just shooting it.

Carter added 24 points and eight assists and Jason Kidd had 10 assists as the seemingly playoff-bound Nets won for the fourth time in five games and sent the Hawks to their seventh straight loss.

Mikki Moore added 14 points and nine rebounds for New Jersey, which used a 20-2 run at the end of the first half to take control and calm the crowd, which was annoyed with the effort and the sloppiness against the reeling Hawks.

"This team is very unselfish,'' Kidd said. "We just try to make it easy for Bokie (Nachbar), Mikki and Josh (Boone). Those guys are open and they have been putting the ball in the basket.''

Coupled with Orlando's loss to Toronto, the Nets hold a 1+-game lead on the Magic for the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference with eight games to play, one more than Orlando.

"We realize the playoffs are close and we are trying to pick it up,'' said Nachbar, who was 9-for-14 from the field. "I also think the team looks much more mature now. As the season comes to an end, we don't have as many ups and downs. In the second halves, we are controlling the games.''

Salim Stoudamire had 19 points and Zaza Pachulia 18 to lead Atlanta, which was playing its 14th straight game without All-Star guard Joe Johnson (calf). Josh Smith added 15 points for the Hawks, who also will be without Josh Childress (13.0 points) for the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his foot. Shelden Williams had 14 rebounds.

"When you are missing so many guys,'' Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We're missing Joe Johnson, Childress, Speedy (Claxton), we're playing with guys who probably wouldn't be playing a whole lot of minutes, and it's been tough.''

Nachbar, who was 7-of-10 from long range, was the difference in the second quarter when the Nets blew an eight-point lead and saw the Hawks score 13 straight points to take a 37-32 lead on two free throws by Pachulia.

Nachbar quickly ended a more than five-minute drought by getting a nice roll on the rim with his jumper, and that seemed to spark the New Jersey's big run at the end of the half.

Moore hit two three-point plays off Kidd feeds, Carter scored six points and Nachbar sandwiched two 3-pointers around one by Carter to cap the run.

"The way we ended the second quarter was huge,'' Frank said. "We went smaller and we were able to spread the floor. Our guys unselfishly moved the ball and found Boki in the corners. It was a huge lift and gave us momentum going into the third quarter.''

New Jersey expanded the 52-39 halftime edge to 18 points at the end of the third quarter as Nachbar hit two more 3-pointers and scored eight points.

"You game plan for Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson,'' Hawks guard Anthony Johnson said. "When a guy like Nachbar comes off the bench and gets a hot hand, that's something you don't plan on. He took advantage, got a lot of open looks and knocked then down.''

Notes: The Nets won the season series 2-1. ... Carter is the only Nets to appear in all 74 games this season. ... Carter scored 10 points in the opening five minutes but he struggled after that, even missing a monster one-hand dunk attempt late in the first quarter. ... Pachulia limped left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.


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