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Nets outlast Sonics for second straight win

SEATTLE (AP) -- Another 30-point performance and more important, another road win for the New Jersey Nets weren't enough to satisfy Richard Jefferson.

Not after watching a double-digit lead in the second half nearly disappear and letting the struggling Seattle SuperSonics almost complete a major rally in the closing seconds, before Nets held on for a 98-93 win on Friday night.

"I'm always going to look on the brighter side, I'm always optimistic, but if we want more, we've got to expect better from ourselves," Jefferson said.

Despite his complaints, there was an air of satisfaction for Jefferson, who kept up his stellar start to the season with his second-straight 30-point game.

Already averaging a career-best 24.5 points, Jefferson continued to carry the Nets, even with an injured Vince Carter available again after missing time with a sprained right ankle. Having Carter on the floor only makes Jefferson better.

New Jersey needed all of Jefferson's points, and the 15 off the bench from Carter, who slowly and painfully trudged through the locker room after the game with ice bags on both ankles.

Jason Kidd added 14 points as the Nets' trio combined for 59 points, 14 rebounds and 16 assists.

"With all of us out there, it just makes us hard to guard and everybody benefits," Carter said.

The Nets led by 13 in the third quarter, only to see the struggling Sonics continually chip away until the lead was just one with less than a minute to play.

"You can't just be happy with wins. Sometimes you have to dissect things," Jefferson said.

OK. How about the frantic final minute?

Seattle cut the Nets' lead to one on Delonte West's three-point play with 55 seconds left. Jefferson responded with a layup, splitting two defenders to get to the rim. After a Seattle turnover, Kidd and Seattle's Kevin Durant exchanged hitting 1 of 2 free throws, giving the Nets a 96-93 lead with 31 seconds left.

Instead of fouling, Seattle played defense, and Jefferson missed a 10-footer with six seconds left. Out of timeouts, Seattle quickly pushed the ball up the floor, but West was spun to the floor by Carter before getting off a shot.

West missed the first free throw, and purposely missed the second, but Jefferson darted in the lane to get a hand on the rebound and was fouled before the Sonics could tip the ball to the perimeter for a tying attempt.

"We had some defensive breakdowns during that stretch in the fourth quarter, but we did enough to win," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said.

West led Seattle with 17 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Rookie Jeff Green added 14 points and 14 rebounds, but his fellow rookie, Durant, was noticeably absent until the final minutes.

Durant's baseline drive and soaring dunk with 2:46 left brought Seattle within three and his 3-pointer 30 seconds later got the Sonics within 91-89, the closest they had been since midway through the first quarter.

Seattle had two chances to tie, but both Durant and West missed jumpers, and Antoine Wright followed with a tough layup for New Jersey. Durant finished with 12 points, but shot just 4-of-12 and has made only nine of 32 attempts in his past three games.

"I just didn't knock down the open shots like I usually do," Durant said.

Nick Collison also scored 12 for Seattle. The Sonics lost their third straight and are 0-5 at home this season.

"Until we get significantly better defensively, we're not going to win games," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said.

Frank went with the same lineup that proved successful two nights ago in Portland when New Jersey snapped its six-game losing streak. That meant Carter started his night on the bench, but didn't stay there long.

Wright was given the tough task of checking Durant and just 1:27 in, Wright was headed to the bench with two fouls. Carter got the early call and immediately knocked down a 3-pointer, going 5-for-7 in the first half.

Seattle's sloppiness didn't help matters either. Already leading the league in turnovers, Seattle fumbled away the ball 13 times in the first half, in all sorts of manners. The miscues led to 17 Nets' points and were a big reason New Jersey led 52-42 at halftime. Seattle finished with 21 turnovers.

"Turnovers killed us again," Carlesimo said.

Game notes
Seattle F Chris Wilcox started despite spraining an ankle in practice on Thursday. He scored 10 points. ... New Jersey wraps up its four-game Western swing Sunday against the Lakers. It's part of New Jersey's annual Thanksgiving road trip. The Nets don't come back to the West Coast until late January.