"He's one of the best, and when you're one of the best, you get
up for games like this," said Jason Kidd, who added nine points,
nine assists and seven rebounds. "When he came here, people talked
about how he was soft, how he was a guy who didn't want to compete
when things got tough. But we haven't seen that. This is just like
last year when he carried us on his back in the second half of the
Carter had 13 points in a 16-4 run early in the fourth quarter
to stave off a Miami rally. It was more than enough to hold off the
Heat, who lost their second straight game after winning three in a
Wade scored 32 points a night after putting up a season-high 44
in a loss to Cleveland.
"I'm just trying to do what I can to help this team," said
Wade. "We'll get back into it. Other guys will get back into the
flow. It's a bump in the road."
The Nets squeaked into the playoffs last season largely on the
efforts of Carter, who was acquired in a mid-season trade with
Toronto. With Kidd ailing and with Richard Jefferson rusty after
missing three months with a wrist injury, New Jersey was swept by
Miami in the first round of the playoffs.
With everyone healthy this season, the Nets (44-28) have won
three of four from Miami, though they don't figure to catch the
Heat (48-25) for the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference behind
Detroit. If the three wins have sent a message, no one was letting
"You don't prove yourself until the playoffs," said Jefferson,
who scored 16 points. "Detroit and Miami are the two best teams in
the conference, and until someone knocks them off, they're still
the two best teams in the conference."
Wade was a one-man show for stretches of Sunday's game, but he
got little help through the first three quarters when he scored 30
of the Heat's 58 points.
Shaquille O'Neal -- playing in his first game since missing two
games with a hyperextended left knee -- scored 18 points, nine in
the fourth quarter, but Antoine Walker was the only other Miami
player in double figures with 11 off the bench.
The Heat trailed 74-58 to start the fourth quarter, but scored
11 straight points and trailed just 74-69 when Gary Payton made two
free throws with 9:15 left. The Nets missed eight of their first
nine shots, but the one they made was a 3-pointer by Carter to
break the drought and give them a 77-69 lead.
From that point, New Jersey went on a 13-4 run, with Carter
providing the final five points with an alley-oop dunk and a
3-pointer to give the Nets a 90-73 lead with 2:35 left.
"It was one of those things where you're in a zone," said
Carter. "You hit a couple and things are going well and your
teammates find you. I was trying to take shots within the flow of
the offense. I wasn't trying to force anything."
Miami coach Pat Riley sounded a call for help for Wade, who has
now led the Heat in scoring in 12 of the team's last 14 games.
"We are overloading Dwyane Wade," he said. "We have to go
back and get the balance we had for a long period with four or five
guys contributing. Not having Jason Williams, a natural point guard
that could break down some defenses, really hurts us. We are going
to have to revisit some things here."
The Nets won 14 straight games from Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2004,
including 13 after current coach Lawrence Frank took over for Byron
Scott. ... Nets C Nenad Krstic had the highlight-reel play of the
first half when he found himself leading the pack on a fast break
and dunked over Wade, who flew in from behind the 7-footer to
attempt the block. ... Sean "P. Diddy" Combs sat at courtside.
... The Nets have held 11 of their last 12 opponents under 90
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