Together, the two are turning into a potent one-two punch for
Stojakovic and Jones scored 22 points apiece and the Pacers beat
the New Jersey Nets 101-91 Sunday night to snap a six-game road
Two nights earlier in a 117-112 overtime loss at home to
Atlanta, Jones tied a career high with 31 points while Stojakovic
had a season-high 34. In the 11 games since Stojakovic was traded
to the Pacers for Ron Artest, Indiana (28-25) is 7-4.
"We're coming together more, learning each other's games a
little better and getting a good feel for each other," Jones said.
"We're having fun out there."
In his first 20 games this season, Jones averaged 6.6 points per
game. That number has nearly doubled since then, making Jones a
contender for the NBA's sixth man award.
Indiana's reserves keyed the effort against New Jersey, which
was hurt by the absence of Vince Carter, who left the game with a
hamstring injury late in the first quarter and did not return.
"Obviously we caught a break when he went out because they're
not the same team without Vince Carter," Pacers coach Rick
Carlisle said. "Our bench was huge. This was one of those nights
when we needed everybody to play well, and they did."
Jones scored seven of the Pacers' nine points in a span of 2:30
in the fourth quarter after the Nets had whittled a 15-point
third-quarter deficit down to five after Jason Kidd's 3-pointer and
driving scoop shot.
With Indiana clinging to an 85-80 lead, Jones buried a
3-pointer, Anthony Johnson sank a jumper and Jones scored on
consecutive driving layups to make it 92-80. The Nets never got
closer than seven points after that.
"It started when we gave up 36 points in the second quarter,"
said Kidd, who narrowly missed his 72nd career triple-double with
19 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. "We were playing uphill
from that point. We got it down to five, and I thought I had a good
look on a 3 that went in-and-out, and they came down and hit a 3
and the rest was academic."
Richard Jefferson led the Nets (31-24) with 23 points, but New
Jersey looked lost at times in the first half without Carter. New
Jersey had lost just once in its last 15 home games and had won six
of its last seven overall.
Now, the Nets have to hope Carter's injury is not serious. It
was described by the team as a sore hamstring that will be
evaluated Monday. New Jersey plays at Atlanta on Monday night then
travels to Minnesota for a game Wednesday.
"It just tightened up," Carter said. "When I went up, I just
felt a grab and I didn't want it to tear. We're hoping it's just a
cramp and I can play tomorrow."
The last time the Nets went on the road with Carter fighting a
gimpy back, they went 0-4 on a West Coast swing in late January.
The Pacers are no strangers to injury woes and have been playing
without Austin Croshere, Jamaal Tinsley and Jermaine O'Neal for
most of the last month. That plus the spillover from the loss to
lowly Atlanta made Sunday's win sweeter for Carlisle.
"This was really big because of the way the Atlanta game got
away from us," he said. "This was a great response to a
disappointing loss. You have to give the guys credit for being
^Notes:@ Nets C Nenad Krstic, who was 11-for-11 from the field
Friday night against New York, missed his first three shots badly
and finished with four points in 24 minutes. ... Nets F Clifford
Robinson played in his 1,303rd career game, tying him with Elvin
Hayes for ninth on the NBA's career list. He scored 11 points,
giving him 19,190 for his career and passing Gail Goodrich for 36th
place on the NBA's career list. ... Croshere (concussion) missed
his 10th straight game and Tinsley (sore right elbow) missed his
12th straight for Indiana. The Pacers were also without O'Neal, who
suffered a torn left groin on Jan. 24. ... James Gandolfini, star
of HBO's "The Sopranos," took in the game from courtside seats
next to the Nets bench.
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