Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/7

Game 1: Monday, November 7th
Game 2: Friday, December 23rd
Game 3: Saturday, February 4th
Game 4: Sunday, April 2nd

Nets 95

(14-12, 7-6 away)

Heat 88

(15-12, 9-4 home)

7:30 PM ET, December 23, 2005

AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

1 2 3 4 T
NJ 12 24 33 2695
MIA 24 17 19 2888

Top Performers

New Jersey: V. Carter 51 Pts, 8 Reb, 4 Ast

Miami: S. O'Neal 24 Pts, 14 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk

Nets ice Heat in Miami behind Carter's 51

MIAMI (AP) -- The last time he played in Miami, Vince Carter insisted he was fouled when his potentially game-winning layup was swatted away at the buzzer.

So on Friday, he ensured the game was decided long before the final second.

Carter tied a career high with 51 points, getting 37 in the second half, and the New Jersey Nets extended their season-high winning streak to five games with a 95-88 victory over the Heat.

"Basically, one guy beat us. ... Vince was unbelievable," Heat coach Pat Riley said.

Shaquille O'Neal had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Dwyane Wade added 17 points -- on only 4-for-20 shooting -- for Miami, which hosts the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday in a much-anticipated Christmas matchup.

And given the way the Heat couldn't contain Carter, Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant -- who had a 62-point effort against Dallas earlier this week -- might be eagerly awaiting his chance to face Miami.

Yet Carter also drew inspiration from all the Heat-Lakers hype.

"All day I've been watching TV and they were mentioning the Christmas Day game without mentioning they had a game tonight, or to watch the Nets," said Carter, whose team leapfrogged Philadelphia and took a half-game lead in the Atlantic Division. "We're just trying to earn respect."

Carter was 13-for-25 from the floor and 23-for-24 from the foul line, easily eclipsing his previous season-best of 38 set against Cleveland on Dec. 9. He's averaging 35.4 points on 49 percent shooting during the Nets' winning streak.

Carter's 23 free throws were a team record and also a career high, one more than his previous best.

"He took advantage of defensive mistakes, lapses in transition and got some easy buckets," said Wade, who blocked Carter's layup at the end of Miami's 90-89 win on Nov. 7. "Got to the foul line 23, 24 times, so he was very aggressive. He had a great game. ... I take the blame for it. I did a bad job on him."

Carter had 19 points in the third, then 18 more in the fourth -- including 12 straight free throws to seal the win. Jason Kidd added 12 points for the Nets, who beat Miami for the first time in 11 meetings, including a four-game sweep in last season's playoffs.

"Outstanding would be an understatement," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "Vince Carter took us on his shoulder and did a phenomenal job."

New Jersey trailed the whole first half, then used a 33-10 run to build a 76-60 lead with 9:24 left. Miami went on a 14-2 burst and drew within 78-74 on Gary Payton's 3-pointer with 3:52 remaining, but the Heat got no closer in their second loss in six games under Riley.

Antoine Walker had 12 points and James Posey added 10 for Miami, which shot only 37 percent.

"We had a lot of shots around the basket that didn't go in," Riley said. "I thought we got frustrated by not getting the calls that we thought we should have got, which leads to complaining to the officials. ... There's got to be a lot more mental toughness against a team like this."

Miami led 24-12 after one quarter, after New Jersey missed 11 of its final 12 shots on the way to its lowest-scoring period of the season.

The Nets' only make in that stretch was a dunk by Richard Jefferson following a steal by Kidd. Jefferson, however, missed a slam earlier in that quarter while challenging Alonzo Mourning -- one of three dunk tries that he couldn't convert against the Heat's backup center in the opening half.

Miami stretched its lead to 30-15 on a basket by Payton with 10:14 left in the half, but missed seven of its next eight shots. New Jersey closed the half on an 11-1 burst -- capped by Jefferson's 3-pointer from the left corner with 0.6 seconds left -- and drew within 41-36 at intermission.

In the third, Miami continued to struggle -- and Carter took over.

He had 14 straight New Jersey points during one span of the period, including a 3-pointer with 5:20 left that gave the Nets their first lead, 55-53. Another 3-pointer by Carter with 3:29 left in the period gave New Jersey an 60-58 lead and started a 19-2 burst that put the Nets in control.

"I think we are starting to understand who we are," Carter said, "and what we can do as a team."

Game notes

O'Neal did not speak after the game, partly because he didn't want to answer questions about facing the Lakers on Sunday. ... Miami has allowed a total of 21 first-quarter points in its last two games. Atlanta also established a season-low by scoring nine against the Heat on Tuesday; New Jersey's previous low-scoring quarter this season was 14, managed on three occasions. ... New Jersey's didn't make three straight shots at any point in the game's first 22 minutes. ... Miami's string of six straight games scoring 100 or more points ended. ... Nets forward Clifford Robinson moved into 18th place on the NBA's all-time minutes played list. He now has 40,294, 14 more than Charles Oakley.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 95 88
FGM-FGA 30-77 (.390) 30-82 (.366)
3PM-3PA 9-22 (.409) 6-19 (.316)
FTM-FTA 26-32 (.813) 22-35 (.629)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-50 8-50
Assists 17 19
Turnovers 10 10
Steals 4 5
Blocks 3 4
Fast Break Points 16 15
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (0/0) 27 (1/0)
Largest Lead 16 15

Top Performers

New Jersey
Vince Carter Carter
Points: 51
Reb: 8
Ast: 4
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
Points: 24
Reb: 14
Ast: 1
Stl: 0
Blk: 1