Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 1/28

Game 1: Friday, January 28th
Game 2: Wednesday, February 9th

Nets 109


Lakers 103

(22-19, 15-9 home)

    Coverage: FSW

    7:30 PM ET, January 28, 2005

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    NJ 17 31 33 28109
    LAL 25 19 33 26103

    Top Performers

    NJ: V. Carter 30 Pts, 2 Reb, 9 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    LAL: C. Butler 31 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Carter scores 18 of his 30 in the third period

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The New Jersey Nets don't consider themselves short-handed when four of the hands belong to Vince Carter and Jason Kidd.

    Carter scored 18 of his 30 points in the third quarter, Kidd had 15 points and 11 assists, and the gritty Nets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-103 Friday night despite dressing only eight players.

    "It's one thing when you're undermanned and you have nothing to lose, but we felt that we could compete with them -- it was just a matter of how long," said Carter, who had a season-high nine assists for the second consecutive game and a 360-degree finger roll late in the third.

    "We knew they were going to outrebound us, so we just wanted to be close in the last five minutes of the game. And if we could give ourselves a chance at the end, anything can happen," he said.

    The Lakers, coming off losses to Seattle and the Clippers, have dropped three straight for the first time since Jan. 19-22, 2004. Los Angeles is 3-4 since Kobe Bryant sprained his right ankle on Jan. 13 in a victory over Cleveland.

    Caron Butler had a season-high 31 points and 10 rebounds, and Chucky Atkins added 22 points for the Lakers, who have allowed 100 or more points in six of their last seven games. Lamar Odom had 16 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

    "We have to become better defensively if we are going to win games," Odom said. "You cannot let a team that is struggling score 109 points."

    Lakers 7-foot center Chris Mihm, wearing a wrap on his right leg because of a bruised calf, couldn't prevent Carter from taking it to the basket time and time again in the third quarter as the Nets turned a six-point deficit into an 81-77 lead entering the fourth.

    Carter's one-man show offset a combined 23 points in the third by Butler and Atkins. Carter drew gasps from the sellout crowd of 18,997 when he beat Butler with a great crossover move and finished it with his reverse, 360-degree layup over a bewildered Brian Cook.

    "It definitely wasn't premeditated. It was just a reaction," Carter said. "I saw him coming, so I was like, oh, well, I've got to go the other way and avoid the charging foul. It was a crucial time in the game, so I just had to concentrate. I was just fortunate enough to make it, and it gave us a boost."

    Already without leading scorer Richard Jefferson for the rest of the season because of a wrist injury, New Jersey used its 13th different starting lineup because of injuries to Brian Scalabrine and Jason Collins.

    New Jersey's three available reserves -- Travis Best, backup center Jabari Smith and recently signed free agent Billy Thomas -- outscored their five Lakers counterparts 19-15.

    "It goes to show you what can happen when a team's back is against the wall," Butler said. "They fought with everything they had and did everything they needed to do to win that game. Vince did a good job getting into the paint and making acrobatic shots."

    Scalabrine, who scored a career-high 29 points and got his first double-double in Wednesday's 113-99 win at Golden State, bruised his left knee late in that game and underwent an MRI on Friday. Collins missed his second straight game because of a strained right hamstring.

    Rookie 7-footer Nenad Krstic started at center for the Nets, flanked by four guards -- Kidd, Carter, Rodney Buford and Jacque Vaughn.

    Vaughn, making his fourth start, gave New Jersey an 89-86 lead with a 3-pointer that bounced high off the rim, then off the top of the backboard before going in with 9:16 to play.

    The Lakers regained the lead about a minute later on Butler's three-point play, but Kidd drained his third 3-pointer in a 3:02 span to give the Nets a 100-93 lead with 4:34 left.

    Jumaine Jones' 3-pointer narrowed the gap to 104-101 with 2:16 remaining, but the Lakers did not make another basket, and Carter's running jumper sealed the victory with 49 seconds to go.

    Game notes

    Butler appeared on "The Tonight Show" on Thursday night. He told host Jay Leno about the days he spent in solitary confinement at a Wisconsin correctional facility as a 14-year-old. Butler's mother, Mattie, was in the studio audience watching her son break down a couple of times while talking about her support. ... The Nets claimed former Lakers C Elden Campbell off waivers, two days after he was released by Utah. "Campbell's the best big (man) available, so I feel he can come in, play minutes for us and help us," CEO Rod Thorn said. "We're not going to punt the season and give up. We still have a very good opportunity in our division. We've got a couple of top-flight players here, and we feel he can be an asset to us."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 109 103
    FGM-FGA 43-81 (.531) 37-89 (.416)
    3PM-3PA 8-20 (.400) 9-24 (.375)
    FTM-FTA 15-22 (.682) 20-23 (.870)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-28 23-55
    Assists 29 22
    Turnovers 9 18
    Steals 8 6
    Blocks 7 5
    Fast Break Points 10 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 23 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 8 9

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Los Angeles
    Vince Carter Carter
    Points: 30
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1
    Caron Butler Butler
    Points: 31
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1