(21-55, 6-32 away)
(46-28, 28-9 home)
7:30 PM ET, April 6, 2006
IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Richard Jefferson noted that he is now on "one of the best regular-season teams that the Nets have had."
He wasn't nearly as impressed by that as the Charlotte Bobcats were by him.
Jefferson scored a season-high 40 points, Jason Kidd had his 74th triple-double, and New Jersey extended the longest winning streak in the NBA this season to 14 by beating the Bobcats 113-102 Thursday night.
"We were staying in the game, but when (Jefferson) got hot, he spread the lead," Charlotte's Raymond Felton said. "They took it up to 15 and 18. We'd cut it back down but he'd come down and hit two big 3s. He had it going tonight. We had no answer for him. We played great defense and he still was hitting it."
The Nets also matched the longest winning streak in franchise history, having won 14 in a row from Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2004, during Lawrence Frank's first weeks as coach. But after reaching the NBA Finals in 2002 and '03, they know postseason success is all that really matters.
"The Nets, since I've been here, are going to be judged by how you play in the playoffs," Jefferson said. "You win a lot of games in the regular season, we're still going to be judged by how you play in the playoffs. This is good, this is great, but we understand ultimately what's the big picture."
New Jersey broke a tie with Dallas for the longest winning streak in the NBA this season and moved within 2½ games of Miami for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. But after barely holding on to beat Atlanta on Tuesday and letting Charlotte hang around for 2½ quarters Thursday, the Nets think they need to pick up their level of play.
"It's great that we won 14 in a row, but I think the big thing now is for us to keep that swagger, that hunger to get better and not get complacent," Kidd said. "The big thing for us right now is we've got some good teams that we're about to play. So nothing against Charlotte or Atlanta, but now we got Cleveland coming in, and then we go to Milwaukee and Chicago, so we can't play the way that we have these last two games if we're going to have any chance to win."
Once the blowout was ensured, the Nets even were able to get Kidd a final rebound in the last minute to add to his triple-double total. He finished with 13 points, 12 assists and 10 boards, moving within four triple-doubles of Wilt Chamberlain for third place on the career list.
Frank left Kidd on the floor long after the rest of the stars were on the bench.
"I had around 300 people in my ear telling me about the rebound thing," Frank said.
Vince Carter added 20 points for the Nets, who pulled away in the third quarter by shooting 14-for-18 (78 percent) from the floor. Jefferson scored 26 points in the second half.
Felton scored 20 points and Primoz Brezec had 16 for the Bobcats, who stayed close until midway through the third quarter before Jefferson and Kidd took over.
"During that third or fourth quarter, when they featured Richard, we just couldn't do anything with it," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "I think all the credit needs to go to New Jersey tonight. They're playing well, that's 14 in a row. They're a team that if they play like this, they're going to be very dangerous in the playoffs."
The Bobcats tied it for the final time at 64 on Felton's three-point play with 6 minutes left in the third quarter, but the Nets scored six straight points, taking a 70-64 when Kidd tipped a pass in the air to Carter for a layup.
Charlotte was within four later in the period, but Kidd hit a 3-pointer to spark a 13-4 surge that broke open the game. Jefferson scored six points during the surge, including two free throws that made it 85-72 with 6 seconds left in the quarter.
Jefferson made sure Charlotte wouldn't get close in the final quarter, hitting a jumper and a 3-pointer, pushing the lead to 92-76. He hit two more 3s later in the period, the final one pushing the lead to 107-86 with about 4½ minutes to go.
The Bobcats started slowly, perhaps because a traffic accident on Route 3 delayed their arrival at the arena until 6:15 p.m. The Nets had a double-digit lead before half the first quarter had been played and led by 14 points later in the period.
Charlotte got within 33-25 by the end of the quarter, and went ahead 44-42 when Felton hit a 3-pointer with 4:22 remaining in the half. Brevin Knight's layup with 0.9 seconds to go sent the teams to halftime tied at 51.
Notes: Kidd (5,703 points) passed Keith Van Horn (5,700) for seventh place on the Nets' career scoring list ... Charlotte won at New Jersey on Dec. 14, dropping the Nets to 4-6 at home. Since then, the Nets are 24-3 at Continental Airlines Arena, including nine straight wins. ... The Nets were only 5-of-17 (29 percent) in the second quarter. ... Nets forward Clifford Robinson was sent home from shootaround because of a stomach illness, but played and had 14 points.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||34-85 (.400)||42-79 (.532)|
|3PM-3PA||4-13 (.308)||8-24 (.333)|
|FTM-FTA||30-39 (.769)||21-32 (.656)|
|Fast Break Points||9||15|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (2/0)||26 (2/0)|