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Carter's jumper forces second OT, but Heat hold up

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The ball bounced Vince Carter's
way. The game didn't.

One of the luckiest shots of Carter's career -- a shot that took
five or six bounces off the backboard and rim before dropping
through to force a second overtime -- couldn't keep the New Jersey
Nets from losing 108-105 to the Miami Heat on Thursday night.

Carter's shot was something, a 21-footer from the corner that
ricocheted every which way before going in. But it would end up
being the final moment of magic for the Nets as they fell behind
3-0 in the best-of-seven series.

"I had missed a 3 earlier and I wanted another opportunity, and
I got lucky," Carter said. "We were fortunate it gave us a new
life."

But that life lasted only five more minutes, and the problem now
confronting New Jersey is one that no NBA team has ever solved --
overcoming a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series.

Miami can complete a sweep Sunday.

Shaquille O'Neal had his best game of the series with 25 points,
Udonis Haslem had the final go-ahead basket among his 14 points and
19 rebounds, Dwyane Wade had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Eddie
Jones added 20 points for the Heat.

Carter scored 36, Richard Jefferson had 23 and Jason Kidd had a
triple-double of 16 points, 13 assists and 16 rebounds for the
Nets, whose best chance to win came at the end of regulation when
Kidd had an open shot from 3-point range.

But he couldn't connect, and Carter's crazy bounce only ended up
prolonging the eventual loss. Haslem's putback made it 104-102 with
1:26 left, and a missed 3 by Clifford Robinson and a blown layup by
Jefferson helped seal New Jersey's defeat.

The Nets were hurt by their 3-for-23 shooting from 3-point range
and nine missed free throws in 27 attempts.

Miami went 10-for-22 on 3s to help overcome 16 missed foul shots
in 38 attempts.

"Man, this team is very resilient," said Heat center Alonzo
Mourning, who grabbed a key rebound late in the second overtime.
"This just shows the toughness and character of this team in
digging out a win like this."

Carter's corner jumper at the end of the first overtime rolled
around the iron, bounced high off the glass, came down and bounced
four more times on the rim before dropping through to tie the game
at 99.

"I thought once it hit every piece of the rim and fell in, we
had another opportunity, and anytime you have an opportunity like
that against a team like Miami you have to take advantage of it,"
Kidd said.

Carter's shot came after Jones, normally a solid foul shooter,
missed two free throws with 11.5 seconds remaining to leave the
Nets just two points behind.

In double overtime, Haslem went to the line with 20.6 seconds
left and made the first of two free throws to make it 105-102.
After he missed the second, Mourning outfought Jason Collins for
the rebound to allow the Heat the keep possession with a
three-point lead.

The inbounds pass went to Wade, and the Heat sealed the victory
from the line.

It was their sixth victory over New Jersey in as many tries this
season, but this was the first time the Nets kept one of the games
close.

"I know this is easy to say as the winning coach, but no one
deserved to lose that game," Miami's Stan Van Gundy said.

New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank opted to stick with the same
starting lineup from the first two games, keeping Jefferson in a
reserve role. Jefferson gave the Nets an immediate boost after
checking in midway through the first quarter, scoring 10 points on
4-for-5 shooting to help turn a 15-10 deficit into a 28-18 lead.

O'Neal finally made his first field goal with 6:18 left in the
second quarter, and he scored 12 points over the rest of the half.
The main reason, however, for the Heat's 49-45 halftime lead was
Keyon Dooling's 13 points in the period on 6-for-7 shooting,
including a running jumper just before the halftime buzzer.

Damon Jones made a pair of 3s early in the third quarter to
stretch Miami's lead, and his 3 with 46 seconds left in the quarter
gave the Heat its largest lead, 74-64.

The Nets opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run to take a
77-76 lead, and no more than four points separated the teams the
rest of the way.

Game notes
Kidd had his eighth postseason triple-double. ... Mourning,
who began the season with New Jersey before being involved in the
Carter trade, was the recipient of boos and derisive chants from
the sellout crowd of 20,174. ... NBA commissioner Davis Stern's
take on whether the Nets will get a new arena built in Brooklyn:
"Smarter people than me seem to expect that it will get done."