New Jersey 111, Indiana 107

INDIANAPOLIS, April 15 (AP) -- Bostjan Nachbar's outside shooting kept the New Jersey Nets in the race for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Nachbar, a reserve forward, scored 25 points and shot 6-for-6 from 3-point range to help the Nets beat the Indiana Pacers 111-107 on Sunday afternoon. The Nets moved within one game of Washington for the No. 6 spot in the East with two games to go.

Vince Carter, who scored 35 points for the Nets, was glad to get some help besides the usual assistance from Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson. He said Nachbar has done a good job of finding a niche.

"We have a lot of confidence in him,'' Carter said. "He's aggressive getting to the basket and he shoots the hell out of the ball. He's a great asset to what we have already.''

Nachbar deflected credit, instead saying his teammates set him up.

"I made the first couple, and I felt good,'' he said. "With the team we have, if somebody gets hot, they are going to be looking for you. I'm not creating my own shots, it's the other guys. I'm just basically shooting.''

The Nets shot 51 percent from the field and made 13 of 23 3-pointers to sweep the season series 4-0. A loss would have given the Nets their first losing season since 2000-01, their last season before Kidd joined the team.

Indiana entered the game trailing the Orlando Magic by two games for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with three games to play. Any combination of a win by Orlando or a loss by the Pacers the rest of the way will eliminate the Pacers for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

The Nets knew the Pacers had a lot to gain with a win, but New Jersey came in focused.

"We weren't going to come in and lay down,'' Carter said. "We knew they weren't going to lay down. We were expecting a playoff atmosphere, and that's what we got.''

The Pacers' postseason chances took a major hit on Sunday, but their real undoing came just after the All-Star break during an 11-game losing streak.

The Pacers already have clinched their first losing season in a decade.

"This has been my toughest year by far,'' Jermaine O'Neal, who led the Pacers with 20 points, said. "We put ourselves in this predicament. We're not in position to feel sorry for ourselves. We need to challenge ourselves.''

Troy Murphy and Danny Granger each scored 17 points for the Pacers. Indiana shot 12-for-20 from 3-point range and had seven players score in double figures, but struggled defensively.

A sellout crowd of 18,165 watched the Pacers try to keep their hopes alive. New Jersey led 105-96 after a 3-point play on a dunk by Nachbar with 2:55 to go, causing many of the fans to start filing out of Conseco Fieldhouse.

O'Neal made two free throws with 1:52 left to cut New Jersey's lead to 107-104, and the Pacers had a chance to tie after Carter missed a 3-pointer at the other end. Granger's 3-pointer missed, and New Jersey got the rebound. The Nets extended their lead to 110-104 on a jumper by Kidd with 11.3 seconds to go.

Jamaal Tinsley, who had missed the past five games with a sore right elbow, made a 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left to make it 110-107. The Pacers fouled Carter, who missed his first free throw with three seconds left to give the remaining Pacers fans hope. He made the second to end the Pacers' chances.

"We've got to somehow learn how to finish games,'' Indiana guard Darrell Armstrong said. "If you can't finish games, you kill yourself. This is what you get. I feel bad for J.O. (O'Neal) and the fans to have to see a season like this.''

Notes: Reggie Miller, Indiana's career leading scorer, was the leader in fan voting for the Pacers' 40th anniversary team. Mel Daniels, the anchor of the teams that won three ABA championships, was second and O'Neal finished third. The other Pacers selected are Rik Smits, George McGinnis, Dale Davis, Mark Jackson, Billy Keller, Antonio Davis, Roger Brown, Billy Knight and Clark Kellogg. The 12 players selected were honored at halftime. ... The Pacers wore throwback uniforms in honor of their inaugural 1967 team. ... The Pacers went 3-2 with Keith McLeod starting in place of Tinsley. ... Carter scored the first nine points of the game. ... Carter became the first Net to score more than 2,000 points in a season.


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