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Nets' 14-2 fourth-quarter run dooms Pacers

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Just in time for the stretch run,
the New Jersey Nets have put together their longest winning streak
of the season.

The Nets won their fifth straight game Tuesday night, getting 33
points from Vince Carter and outplaying the Indiana Pacers in the
fourth quarter of a 98-91 victory.

"Since I've been a Net, it's never been about how you start,
it's how you finish the marathon," Jason Kidd said. "Right now
we're playing our best basketball, but at the same time we have a
lot more to give and also to learn, and we look forward to that
challenge."

Rookie center Nenad Krstic scored seven of his 15 points during
a 14-2 run that put the Nets in control midway through the final
period, and Carter and Travis Best provided enough offense the rest
of the way to give New Jersey a sweep of their back-to-back set
against the Pacers.

The Nets gained a game on Indiana, which began the night in
seventh place in the East, and moved within one game of
Philadelphia for eighth place.

With 14 games remaining, the Nets' playoff hopes are very much
alive.

Not bad for a team that began the season by losing 11 of 13
games, then lost Richard Jefferson for the season.

"It's kind of hard to put it in perspective because at the
start of the season we had a totally different team," coach
Lawrence Frank said. "We've had this group for a while and we're
making strides. We've obviously had some highs and some lows, and I
think now what we're in search of is consistency, and we're
starting to see that."

Stephen Jackson scored 23 points for Indiana, but was limited
down the stretch because of foul trouble. He complained bitterly
after drawing his sixth foul while trapping Best in the backcourt
with 1:10 left, and Best knocked down both free throws for a 95-87
lead.

Reggie Miller added 18 points and Austin Croshere 15 for
Indiana.

Kidd had 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for New
Jersey, while Carter surpassed 30 points for the fourth time in
five games and the 16th time since the Nets acquired him from
Toronto.

"It's been an interesting couple of games to see the level of
intensity and level of focus we've found," Carter said. "We have
the mentality (to be a playoff team), we just now have to finish
the job."

The game meandered along for the first three quarters, the slow
pace being set in the first period when the referees whistled 19
fouls leading to 29 free throws. Indiana held the lead most of the
way, but New Jersey went ahead briefly in the third quarter and
trailed just 70-68 entering the fourth.

Krstic scored on a jump hook for a 78-78 tie with 6:21 left, and
the Nets went on the fast break moments later when Miller appeared
to be hacked on a drive but no foul was called.

Carter missed a layup but tipped in his own miss to put New
Jersey ahead for good, Kidd followed with a 3-pointer and Carter
hit a jump hook to complete the 14-2 run and give the Nets an 87-80
lead.

"It's a big loss at this point in the season," Croshere said.
"We definitely wanted to come back and even the score."

Game notes
When national anthem singer Roger Nick stumbled on the
words to the song, referee Dick Bavetta walked over and coached him
through it. ... NBA commissioner David Stern reaffirmed his
season-long suspension of Ron Artest in an interview with the
Indianapolis Star, saying he believes Artest will benefit most by
sitting out the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs.
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was not surprised. "I've been pretty
steadfast in the belief that Ron wouldn't be back no matter what,
so that was not a surprise." ... Jamaal Tinsley is spending
Tuesday and Wednesday seeing a renowned foot specialist in New
York, trying to find a cure for the bruised left foot that has
caused him to miss the last 13 games. "Hopefully in a couple of
days we'll have more of an idea of a diagnosis and prognosis,"
Carlisle said.