Nets 90, Heat 78

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.- Vince Carter scored 43 points and New Jersey beat Miami 90-78 Sunday for the Nets’ 12th straight win.

A day after scoring a season-high 44 against Cleveland but losing to the Cavs and LeBron James’ 47, Wade scored 32 points to lead Miami (48-25), which had won three of its last four games.

Carter had 33 points in the second half and helped New Jersey (44-28) pull away from the Heat after Miami scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter to cut a 16-point deficit to five.

Miami trailed 74-58 to start the fourth quarter, but immediately lopped 11 points off the lead and trailed just 74-69 when Gary Payton made two free throws with 9:15 left. The Nets missed eight of their first nine shots, but the one they made was a 3-pointer by Carter to break the drought and give them a 77-69 lead.

From that point, New Jersey went on a 13-4 run, with Carter providing the final five points with an alley-oop dunk and a 3-pointer to give the Nets a 90-73 lead with 2:35 left.

Carter’s season high of 51 points also came against Miami, in a 95-88 win on Dec. 23.

After concentrating on getting his teammates involved in the first half, Carter had a 20-point third quarter in which the Nets pulled away with a 15-2 run. Carter had four consecutive free throws, then hit consecutive 3-pointers to give New Jersey a 74-54 lead with 45 seconds left in the period.

Wade scored 18 points in the first half on 7-for-14 shooting, though he was the only Miami player in double figures at the break. By the end of a third quarter in which the Heat were outscored 32-19, he was still the only one.

Shaquille O’Neal, playing in his first game after missing two games with a hyperextended left knee, was mired in foul trouble, picking up his fifth near the end of the third quarter. He finished with 18 points.

Neither team led by more than six points in the first 24 minutes. Carter and Nenad Krstic had 10 points apiece for New Jersey. Carter had six assists, at one point passing behind his back to Jacque Vaughn out of a double team for an open jumper.

Krstic had the highlight-reel play of the first half when he found himself leading the pack on a fast break and dunked over Wade, who flew in from behind the 7-footer to attempt the block.

Notes: The Nets won a franchise-record 14 games from Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2004, when current coach Lawrence Frank took over for Byron Scott … Heat F James Posey (right ankle tendinitis) sat out his second straight game for Miami … Heat G Jason Williams also sat with tendinitis in his knees … Sean “P. Diddy” Combs sat at courtside … Former Net Kerry Kittles, traded to the Los Angeles Clippers before last season, was also in attendance. Kittles, plagued by back and knee injuries for most of his eight-year career, was waived by the Clippers at the end of last season. When asked about 39-year-old Clifford Robinson wearing his former No. 30, Kittles said with a laugh, “It’s not so bad – he’s hitting the clutch 3’s I used to hit.”

AP-ES-04-02-06 2038EDT

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