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Krstic scores 25 points in 28 minutes; VC has 28 points

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- If rookie Nenad Krstic keeps
playing the way he did against the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday
night, the New Jersey Nets might still make a playoff run.

Krstic returned to the lineup after missing two game with a
viral infection and scored a career-high 25 points to lead the Nets
to a 93-86 victory that snapped a two-game post All-Star break
losing streak.

"We definitely missed his big body and what he brings," said
Jason Kidd, who wasn't happy with the way New Jersey returned from
the break. "He is a very smart player and maybe he just needed a
week and a half off. Unfortunately, we don't have any weeks and a
half to give. We need him from here on out."

While weak at times during the game, Krstic was impressive going
against the Bobcats' big front line of Emeka Okafor, Primoz Brezec
and Melvin Ely. The 7-footer from Serbia-Montenegro shot 9-of-12
from the field and also had five rebounds before fouling out with
1:16 to play. His previous high was 18 points.

"It was like in Europe, I had a seven-day rest before playing a
game," Krstic said, referring to the rest from the All-Star break
and his illness. "I didn't feel 100 percent."

Krstic said he was tired before the game and needed rest in the
third quarter when he started coughing.

"He was phenomenal tonight," said Vince Carter, who led New
Jersey with 28 points. "It's a miracle what rest can do for you.
He played great on both ends."

Kidd finished with 11 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as
the Nets beat the expansion Bobcats for the third time this season.
Wins over Charlotte have ended New Jersey's losing streaks of nine,
three and now two games.

Gerald Wallace had 23 points to lead the Bobcats, who made the
Nets sweat this one out, cutting a 13-point halftime deficit to
67-66 early in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Jason Kapono.

"It's a frustrating game when you work it down to one and then
you can't get a couple of shots and then it goes away again,"
Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We kept digging out of a
hole and they kept putting us in a hole."

With Kidd sitting on the bench for a rest, Krstic and Carter
then combined on a 9-0 run. Carter hit two free throws to get the
spurt started and Krstic scored the next seven points, capping the
run by taking a pass from Carter and dunking for a 76-66 lead with
9:07 to play.

"The first couple of games we played he had good games, so he
didn't surprise us," Wallace said of Krstic.

Brezec added 14 points and Okafor had six points on 3-for-10
shooting. He also had 10 rebounds.

The Nets again had third-quarter problems, which is what hurt
them in recent losses to Toronto and Milwaukee. The Bobcats
outscored New Jersey 20-12 in the quarter and closed a 13-point
deficit to 67-62.

The Nets were ahead 42-29 when Krstic went to the bench with
6:24 to go in the first half.

The Bobcats scored the next 10 points, drawing within 42-39 on a
fast-break dunk by Wallace.

After a New Jersey called time-out, Krstic was put back in the
lineup and the Nets closed the quarter with a 13-3 spurt to take a
55-42 lead. Carter scored the first five points and Krstic and Kidd
had four apiece.

Game notes
Nets F Jason Collins had a game-high 12 rebounds. ...
Kareem Rush (11) and Brevin Knight (10) also scored in double
figures for Charlotte. ... Charlotte is still waiting for F Malik
Allen to report. He was acquired from Miami on Thursday. ... Carter
spent time on the bench in the third quarter icing a sore calf
muscle. ... Nets F Cliff Robinson attempted his 16,000 field goal
with his first shot.