Nets complete season sweep of Knicks

NEW YORK -- The Nets might still catch Washington. Vince Carter can forget about catching Jason Kidd.

Carter had 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Nets clinched at least the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference by beating the New York Knicks 104-95 Monday night to complete a season sweep.

Elias Says

Richard Jefferson
Richard Jefferson was 10-for-10 from the foul line but only 2-for-12 (.167) from the field in the Nets' victory over the Knicks. It was the 87th time this season that an NBA player shot 10-for-10 or better from the line, but Jefferson was the first to do it while converting fewer than 20 percent of his field-goal attempts.

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Carter had his second triple-double of the season of fourth of his career. That still leaves him 10 this season behind Kidd, who also had one in the same game Carter had his first.

"Every time I look at the stats I just want to see how close I've come to getting a triple-double," Carter said. "I said at the beginning of the year I was going to try and go tit-for-tat with Jason for triple-doubles, but I think I am still down double digits. But that's OK."

New Jersey is still hoping to catch struggling Washington for the No. 6 seed and face Atlantic Division champion Toronto in the first round. The Nets (40-41), who have won three straight and five of six, finish their season Wednesday night at home against Chicago.

"It's important to be playing great basketball and go into the playoffs with a lot of confidence," Carter said. "If we move up, that's great. If we don't, we we just want to make sure we're at the top of our game when the playoffs start."

Bostjan Nachbar added 19 points for the Nets, who won their sixth straight at Madison Square Garden and 10th in the last 11 meetings overall against their rivals across the Hudson River. New Jersey has won 22 of the last 26 in the series, including two victories in the last four nights, and is 20-4 against New York in the regular season since acquiring Kidd.

"I love the setting. This is the best arena in the world," Kidd said. "To bring your 'A' game every time you have the opportunity to play here as a visitor, you always want to shine. We've been very fortunate to be able to do that."

Steve Francis scored 26 points and Mardy Collins had 23 for the Knicks (32-49), who are limping to the finish. They have lost a season-high five straight and need a victory at Charlotte on Wednesday to avoid losing 50 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since doing it three straight times from 1984-87.

The highlight for the Knicks was a brief appearance by Jamal Crawford after he missed the last 22 games with a broken right ankle. The Knicks' second-leading scorer was expected to miss the rest of the regular season after he was injured in late February, but was activated and played the final 30 seconds of the third quarter.

But Stephon Marbury, David Lee and Renaldo Balkman were still sitting, and they were joined along the way by starting center Eddy Curry, who didn't play in the second half because of a strained right hamstring.

"It started to tighten up on me in the second quarter," Curry said. "I came out, stretched it out, tried to go back in. It just didn't feel right. They decided to keep me out, so I just have to get ready for Wednesday."

The rest of the night belonged to the Nets, with Carter and Kidd receiving loud ovations. Carter had his second triple-double this season and fourth of his career, while Richard Jefferson added 15 points and Mikki Moore scored 14.

The Knicks who did play showed fight, with Malik Rose and Jerome James delivering hard fouls and Nate Robinson picking up a flagrant. But they never really threatened in the second half and lost for the 13th time in 15 games.

"I can't complain at all about our effort or the intensity that we play with," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said.

Carter (13) and Moore (12) combined for all but two New Jersey points in the first quarter, which ended with the Nets leading 27-25. The Nets quickly extended the lead to 13 after hitting four 3-pointers in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second, and they were ahead 55-44 at the break.

Game notes
Nets part-owner Jay-Z had a courtside seat next to Beyonce and Tyra Banks. ... Marbury addressed the crowd before the game, saying, "You guys stuck with us throughout the whole year." He added, "Us as a team, we're going to be together for next year," and predicted "better things to come." ... There was a moment of silence before the game for those who died in the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech earlier Monday. ... The Nets' season finale against the Bulls on Wednesday night will now be shown on ESPN.