Carter Nets 23 as the Suns Beat New Jersey in OT
Posted: Jan. 12, 2010
Before Wednesday, Vince Carter’s biggest worry was finding his way home in a still-unfamiliar Phoenix. The Nets certainly wished he had similar trouble finding the bottom of the basket.
Posting a new personal high in a Suns uniform with a game-high-tying 23 points, the All-Star guard helped Phoenix to its second win in the last three games with a 118-109 overtime win vs. New Jersey. Carter racked up 18 of those points in the first half en route to a 9-of-20 shooting night, which also included 4-of-9 from the outside in 41 minutes played.
“Vince is a proven scorer in this league,” said Steve Nash, who collected a game-high 16 assists and 23 points of his own. “For him to get hot early was big for us. He made some plays late that were important, too. He has to carry a load for us on offense. We want him to be aggressive, to try and score and make plays.”
The Suns battled back from a second-half 15-point deficit, as the guard ultimately fell two points shy of matching his season high set with Orlando before the trade. He has now scored in double digits in all eight games with the Suns.
As for Wednesday, the eight-time All-Star also helped his new team on the defensive end, which turned into a collective team effort.
“In the third quarter, the Nets were hitting everything,” Carter said. “I was just glad to see all of us stick together and stay with it. More importantly, our offense just didn’t step up to another level – our defense did, too. We kept them off the glass late in the third, in the fourth and in overtime. That was the biggest turning point. Our offense will take care of itself. Even when we don’t make shots, making stops will give us a chance to score. That’s big for us.”
Weathering the New Jersey storm en route to their first overtime win at home since November 5 vs. Memphis, next up for Phoenix is Friday’s fourth and final regular-season series matchup vs. Portland.
“The biggest thing,” said Carter about Wednesday's win, “is us experiencing the ups and downs and sticking together to get a win. This is the first step to us turning things around.”
NASH BECOMES NEW ALL-TIME FREE THROW LEADER
With his first nine perfect free throws, Steve Nash became the NBA’s all-time leader in career free-throw percentage, besting Mark Price’s mark of .903895. He hasn’t missed a chance at the charity stripe since December 15 vs. Minnesota.
“Its hard to not say it’s a privilege to be on that list," said Nash, who was a perfect 11-for-11 from the line. "Mark Price was someone I looked up to as a player growing up. It’s a thrill. It’s been a tough season, so it’s not at the top of my list right now. We have a lot of work to do and that overshadows the record.”
LOPEZ VS. LOPEZ, PART IV
With every Suns-Nets game comes the added subplot of Robin and Brook Lopez matching up, as well. On Wednesday, Brook finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while his twin brother tallied 11 points and two boards for the Suns.
“It’s always an exciting game when I play my brother,” said Brook. “We both keep records of our games against each other. He’s up 3-1, but I’ve outscored him…. Well, I definitely have some ESPN-like stats against him (laughs).”
NO HILL RETURN WEDNESDAY
Seeing his 70-consecutive-games-played streak snapped in Denver Tuesday because of a mild knee sprain, Grant Hill unfortunately started a new run Wednesday with his second-straight night off. It had been 986 days since the forward last missed consecutive regular-season games.
“Grant wanted to go tonight,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “He told me he’d check with the doctor, and I said, “No, you won’t.’ Sitting out another game won’t hurt the healing process.”
He remains 15 points shy of becoming the 14th active NBA player to amass 16,000 in his career.
AVERY TALKS NASH
“I played with Steve (in Dallas),” Nets Head Coach Avery Johnson said, “and we had some real quality time together for a year and a half. He just keeps getting better and better with age – like fine wine. I have a real appreciation for how consistent he’s been. Two MVPs, between playing with him and coaching against him and losing a lot of sleep around, ‘How’s he going to try and beat me…’ It’s a chess match. It has that feel when you play him.
“I’m not surprised (by his success). I am surprised by the level at which he’s played. That’s a First Team All-NBA level the last five years, and that’s pretty remarkable.”