Vince Carter thinks the New Jersey Nets are still capable of reaching the playoffs. More performances like their last one would certainly help their cause.
On Tuesday night, Carter and the Nets hope to build on a win over one of the NBA's top teams when they host the league-worst Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Nets (22-29) are eighth in the Eastern Conference, one-half game ahead of Philadelphia. Carter helped them maintain that advantage Sunday by scoring 25 of his 29 points after nearly being knocked out by an elbow to the head in the second quarter to lead New Jersey to a stunning 101-82 win over Dallas.
The performance was one of the Nets' most impressive of the season, but only their fourth win in 16 games.
"This is the performance we want," said Carter, who added nine rebounds. "I still think we can do it. We definitely think we're capable. It's great to have this kind of performance against a team like that to reassure ourselves that we're a pretty good team.
"Hopefully we can build off this and continue to do the job each and every night. The sad part is that we've put ourselves in a hole. We're playing catch up now. We feel our record should be better and we're trying to do something about it. In my opinion, it is better late than never.
Carter, second on the team with 20.7 points per game, had 25 in the last meeting with the lowly Timberwolves (10-39), but the Nets squandered a 15-point lead with 10 minutes to play and lost 98-95 on Jan. 27 in Minnesota. However, at the Izod Center, New Jersey has won six of the last seven matchups.
Jason Kidd, who demanded a trade last month, has been a key factor in that home success, averaging 17.8 points, 9.8 assists and 7.0 rebounds.
He came four rebounds shy of his 100th career triple-double on Sunday, scoring 13 points, dishing out 14 assists and grabbing six boards. He has achieved the feat four times against the Timberwolves, including once in East Rutherford, N.J.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is looking to avoid its fourth consecutive loss after concluding a five-game homestand with a 105-82 loss to Toronto on Sunday. That came two nights after losing 88-86 to league-leading Boston as the Celtics' Leon Powe beat the final buzzer with a layup.
"I didn't see this coming," Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. "I thought our guys would respond after even a tough loss like that."
The Timberwolves will now play on the road for one game before returning home to open another five-game homestand. However, they have a dreadful 2-22 record away from the Target Center.
Al Jefferson leads the Timberwolves with 21.4 points per game and is fifth in the NBA with 12.2 rebounds. He's scored 18 points in each of the last two games after averaging 28.8 in the previous five contests, including a 40-point performance against the Nets on Jan. 27.
Minnesota hopes swingman Rashard McCants, second on the Wolves with a career-high 14.5 points per game, can return after exiting Sunday's loss in the second quarter with a sprained right ankle. He is listed as day-to-day.
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