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16-12, 8-6 Home

Jefferson's hot shooting pushes Nets' winning streak to 7

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Richard Jefferson stole the
spotlight from Vince Carter and LeBron James.

Jefferson scored 28 points in another outstanding shooting
performance, and the New Jersey Nets extended their winning streak
to seven Tuesday night with a 96-91 victory over James and
Cleveland Cavaliers.

The focus was on the matchup between Carter, the Eastern
Conference player of the week, and James. But with Carter limited
to 30 minutes because of foul trouble, Jefferson was 9-of-11 from
the field, a night after going 8-for-8 in the Nets' 109-101 win at
New York.

"Vince is our primary scorer and that's his role," Jefferson
said. "When he goes down, it's not a surprise that we score with a
lot of crazy shots or play out of our heads. We're just going out
there and playing aggressively and good things are happening."

Carter scored 21 points. Jason Kidd had 14 points, nine rebounds
and nine assists, and Nenad Krstic had 13 points for New Jersey.

"It's just nice to see we've grown," Nets coach Lawrence Frank
said. "We are getting better."

James had 31 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but
Cleveland had its six-game winning streak snapped.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 21 points, Larry Hughes had 16 and
Eric Snow 10.

The Nets seemed on their way to an easy win until the Cavaliers,
led by seven points from Ilgauskas, went on a 12-0 run to cut the
Nets' lead to 89-83.

"We didn't want to get blown out or get embarrassed, being that
it's an Eastern Conference team," James said. "We picked it up."

New Jersey finally scored on a pair of free throws by Carter
with 2:22 remaining, and he followed with a basket to give the Nets
a 10-point lead.

James and Hughes made 3-pointers in the final minutes to trim
the New Jersey lead to 93-89. Carter made one free throw with 21
seconds left and Snow made a layup before Kidd closed out the
scoring with a pair of free throws.

The Nets overcame a slow start to take a 29-21 lead after one
period. James scored Cleveland's first seven points of the second
as the Cavaliers cut the Nets' lead to 33-28.

New Jersey regained control and closed the half with a 56-41
lead. Jefferson paced the Nets with 17 points, including a
buzzer-beating jumper after James was called for an 8-second
violation with 7.2 seconds remaining.

The Cavaliers opened the third quarter with a 13-4 run, sparked
by seven points from Ilgauskas, while New Jersey missed its first
nine shots. Carter picked up a fourth foul with 8:35 remaining and
sat out the remainder of the quarter.

Jefferson ended New Jersey's field-goal drought with 5:52 left
on a 3-pointer that gave the Nets a 64-54 lead. Kidd followed with
a basket that restored New Jersey's double-digit lead.

Kidd later added consecutive 3-pointers as New Jersey finished
the quarter with a 14-4 run and an 80-62 lead.

"We can't come back against a team like that being down 18
points," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "That's tough to do."

Game notes
The seven-game winning streak equals the fourth-longest in
Nets history. They also won seven in a row in the 1983-84 season.
... The Nets have won nine of their last 12. ... The Nets have won
five in row against the Cavaliers and eight straight in New
Jersey... The game drew 20,098, the Nets' third sellout. ... Carter
scored 20 or more points for the seventh straight game. ... James
has scored 30 or more in 10 of his last 12 games.