Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/30

Game 1: Thursday, December 30th
Game 2: Sunday, March 20th
Game 3: Tuesday, March 22nd
Game 4: Wednesday, April 13th

Pacers 91

(33-33, 14-19 away)

Nets 98

(32-36, 19-14 home)

7:30 PM ET, March 22, 2005

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

1 2 3 4 T
IND 34 19 17 2191
NJ 26 19 23 3098

Top Performers

Ind: S. Jackson 23 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast

NJ: V. Carter 33 Pts, 5 Reb, 7 Ast

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 91 98
FGM-FGA 26-69 (.377) 35-69 (.507)
3PM-3PA 6-21 (.286) 4-11 (.364)
FTM-FTA 33-36 (.917) 24-32 (.750)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-42 7-30
Assists 12 24
Turnovers 16 11
Steals 5 2
Blocks 2 2
Fast Break Points 2 6
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 33 (0/0) 26 (3/0)
Largest Lead 10 8

Top Performers

New Jersey
Stephen Jackson Jackson
Points: 23
Reb: 5
Ast: 4
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Vince Carter Carter
Points: 33
Reb: 5
Ast: 7
Stl: 0
Blk: 0