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Marcus13
01-05-2008, 12:58 AM
After some ugly basketball in the first two months of the season, the New Jersey Nets are back in respectable territory -- at .500.

Vince Carter scored 30 points and the Nets won a season-high fourth straight, 102-96 over Charlotte on Friday night to send the Bobcats to their 11th consecutive road loss.

"We haven't turned any corner," Jason Kidd said after recording his eighth triple-double of the season. "What are we? 15-15? 16-16? Have we turned the corner? Until you get 10 games over (.500) you haven't turned the corner. We're just at the starting line."

A week before Christmas, the Nets were five games under .500 after losing consecutive games to the Knicks and Sacramento. There was concern that changes might be in order.

That's an afterthought now. New Jersey (16-16) has won six times in seven games with the only loss coming to the red-hot Detroit Pistons.

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"We put ourselves in a tough hole where we had to play catchup," Carter said. "Christmas has been good for us. It's been a different basketball team where we're just playing hard. We keep fighting and give ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter."

That's what the Nets did on Friday, using an 18-3 span that bridged the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth to take control.

An under-the-weather Richard Jefferson added 28 points and Kidd finished 11 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Bostjan Nachbar also had six of his 11 points during the run, while Darrell Armstrong hit two big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to put away Charlotte.

"We're getting extra efforts," Carter said. "Guys are focusing. We are limiting our lulls. During the course of this game, we didn't have as many."

Jason Richardson scored 33 points for Charlotte before fouling out with 1:17 to play. Gerald Wallace added 25 for the Bobcats, who have not won on the road since beating Miami in their first away game this season.

"It's frustrating we can't close these games out," said former Nets player Jeff McInnis, who had 13 points. "We played so good in the first half and then to come back in the second half and hit that lull. It's been happening too many times."

Charlotte was its own worst enemy, turning the ball over 21 times, leading to 29 points for New Jersey.


AP - Jan 4, 10:20 pm EST
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The Nets, who trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, didn't take their first lead until Carter took a pass from Nachbar and hit a layup for a 69-67 lead with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.

Charlotte never got the lead again as the Nets opened the fourth quarter with an 11-3 spurt that featured two 3s by Armstrong, a basket and a free throw by Nachbar and a layup by Carter.

Armstrong's second 3 gave New Jersey an 80-70 lead and it capped an 18-3 spurt that bridged the final 3:39 of the third quarter and the opening 3 minutes of the fourth.

Charlotte was 0-for-8 from the field and had eight turnovers during the game-deciding run.

"We lost a little focus," Richardson said. "We have to get better, especially a young team it's all part of the process. You're going to have bumps and bruises. We have to figure out how to get over the hump and start winning games."

Emeka Okafor had a game-high 13 rebounds.

Taking advantage of an early 4-for-18 shooting slump by the Nets, the Bobcats built a 10-point lead after the first quarter and they increased the margin to 13 in the opening minutes of the second.