Carter had his best game since joining the Nets, scoring 41 points and leading a second-half surge in a 107-85 victory Saturday that snapped the Pistons' five-game winning streak.
Carter, who finished 10 points shy of his career high, scored 20 of his points during a 29-9 run bridging the third and fourth quarters that turned a 63-61 edge into a 92-70 lead.
"This was the bar that we had to see how good we are against. We wanted to see where we are as a team, and that was a great effort," Carter said.
Carter's points were a season high, surpassing the 33 he scored Jan. 19 in a victory over Milwaukee that came 33 days after the Nets acquired him from Toronto.
New Jersey, 13-13 since the Carter trade, was coming off a lopsided loss at Boston that snapped its four-game winning streak.
"Was that Boston game an aberration? We wanted to redeem ourselves for that, and we wanted to do it against a high-level team like Detroit," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "You always judge yourself against the best, and they have what we want."
Jason Kidd added 12 points and 14 assists, surpassing Kenny Anderson as the franchise leader in career assists with 2,364. Kidd also surpassed Bob Cousy (6,955) for 12th place on the NBA's all-time assists list.
Kidd passed Anderson with his final assist on a 19-foot jumper by Jason Collins that gave New Jersey a 99-73 lead with 5:02 remaining. He left to a standing ovation moments later.
"In 3½ years he shattered the organizational record. How long have the Nets been around? Twenty-something years? That's pretty good," Frank said.
"Nothing went right today. We were flat," Prince said. "We managed to cut it to two at halftime, but it was a bad third quarter. We weren't doing what we're
supposed to do on defense, and that's what creates chaos."
Carter seized the momentum after he was smacked in the arm by
Ben Wallace as he drove for a layup midway through the third quarter. No foul was called, although Carter was whistled for a personal after he slammed into Wallace on the way back upcourt.
Carter said he was merely trying to chase down the referee who hadn't blown his whistle, colliding with Wallace when he cut in front of him. Carter claimed it did not inspire him, and he seemed genuinely surprised to hear how many points he scored in the ensuing run.
He followed with two free throws, a five-foot runner, a 3-pointer, a layup and a steal before Kidd scored four straight points. Carter ended the third quarter by making a pair of foul shots and a seven-foot runner before opening the fourth with a putback and a finger roll for an 83-65 lead.
"Once anybody gets going in this league, it's tough to stop them," Wallace said.
There would be no comeback from the Pistons, who lost for the first time since Jan. 24 and wrapped up a contentious eight-day stretch in which coach Larry Brown, after acknowledging his interest in perhaps becoming coach of the New York Knicks, backed off and said he plans to stay in Detroit.
"It's no different than any other time with me," Brown said. "I feel bad about it, but hopefully that's over. That's my goal. Like I said, I'm in a terrific place and I want to be here, and our team's getting better -- that's the nice thing."
The Nets had 12 healthy players in uniform for the first time since Dec. 7. Zoran Planinic played for the first time since Dec. 1 and had six points in four minutes. Ron Mercer, who had been sidelined after left knee surgery, played for the first time since Nov. 6 and had two points in 12 minutes. ... Lindsey Hunter (flu) did not travel with the Pistons. Carlos Arroyo played 23 minutes as the backup point guard and had four points and five assists. ... Brown would not reveal who he voted for as All-Star reserves. "I
was fair, but it was really hard," he said.