EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Vince Carter's 360-degree spin
around Eddy Curry in the third quarter for an acrobatic finger roll
wasn't even the most impressive thing to the Nets. Nor was it the
12 straight games they have won at home, one off the franchise
The number everyone wanted to focus on after Wednesday night's
96-83 win was 31, the number of assists the Nets had on their 34
field goals. It was the third consecutive game New Jersey had
totaled more than 30 assists, and it constitutes a mini-trend
within the larger winning streak.
The two are intertwined, needless to say.
"It's contagious," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "It starts
at the top with Jason (Kidd) and goes across the board. It's
looking for the best shot no matter who it is, as long as it's an
Carter led the Nets with 22 points and he added seven assists
despite leaving the game briefly near the end of the first quarter
after being hit in the nose by teammate Scott Padgett. Richard
Jefferson scored 18 points and combined with Carter and Kidd for 21
With Carter on the bench having his nose tended to -- it was not
broken, and he wore no bandage on it after the game -- Jefferson
took over and drove for a basket, then drove twice more but kicked
the ball out to Padgett for consecutive 3-pointers.
Those points rallied the Nets within a basket at 24-22, and
after tying the game on a jumper by Jefferson at the end of the
quarter, they never trailed again.
Jefferson echoed Frank's credit to Kidd for creating an
atmosphere of sharing.
"Guys learn so much from him about how to read defenses because
you're with him every day in practice," he said.
New Jersey (26-21) led by 13 at halftime and sprinted away in
the third quarter with a series of highlight-reel plays including
consecutive fast-break dunks by Carter followed by a reverse dunk
Carter had the play of the game with his 360-degree spin and
finger roll past Curry for a three-point play that gave the Nets a
"My goal was just to get it up in the air near the rim and hope
it went in," Carter said. "It was a H-O-R-S-E shot."
The Nets can tie the franchise record for consecutive home wins,
set in 2001-2002 and equaled in 2002-2003, Friday night against San
The Knicks (14-34), who have lost 13 of their last 14 games,
were led by Jalen Rose's 22 points but had no other starter score
in double figures. After the game they held a closed-door meeting
with coach Larry Brown and assistant coach Herb Williams.
Brown offered a harsh assessment of his team's effort.
"As a coach, you have a responsibility to have your team play
better," he said. "Obviously, watching this tonight, we're not
playing better. I want to play guys who show desire to win and
desire to compete. That's what Herb talked about after the game. As
coaches, you can't be out there begging guys to compete and to have
a will to win."
New York fell to 0-7 without injured point guard Stephon
Marbury. The acquisition of Rose from Toronto has yet to change the
team's losing ways.
"Any time a coach addresses a team after a loss like this, it's
disappointing," said Curry. "We've got to leave the coaching to
them and the effort is up to us. The bad part is, we've heard this
^Notes:@ Referee Dick Bavetta officiated his 2,135th consecutive
game, breaking the record for most games officiated set by former
ref Jake O'Donnell ... Knicks F Maurice Taylor bruised his left
knee in the first half and did not return ... Kidd left the game
briefly in the first quarter after getting hit in the face
accidentally by New York's Jamal Crawford. He returned later in the
quarter with a bandage over his left eye for what he said was a
scratch ... Carter flattened Malik Rose with a blind pick on the
last play of the first half, leaving Rose temporarily dazed. He did
not return ... The Knicks have used 29 different starting lineups
this season, the most in the NBA. "Everybody counts how many
lineups we've had, but every day when I go into the dressing room I
don't know who's going to be healthy and that impacts the lineup,"