Carter burns Charlotte for 39 points; Nets eye eighth spot

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- With New Jersey's playoff hopes in
jeopardy, Vince Carter took charge.

Carter scored 39 points as the Nets hung on to beat the
Charlotte Bobcats 95-91 Monday night.

Carter, who scored 15 of the Nets' 19 points in the first
quarter, helped the team end a two-game skid. The Nets have won six
of their last eight and moved within three games of Philadelphia
for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"It was important for us to find some energy, so I just tried
to get us started early," Carter said. "Once I got going and got
double-teamed, it opened things up for everyone else. In the
situation were in, we have to have the mentality to get off to a
fast start."

Nenad Krstic added 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Nets, who
completed a four-game season sweep of the Bobcats.

With the Nets leading 71-70 early in the fourth quarter, New
Jersey went on a 7-0 run, fueled by four Bobcats turnovers.

After Jason Kapono's 3-pointer cut it to 78-75, Carter scored on
an off-balance runner in the lane, then on an alley-oop dunk from
Jason Kidd to put New Jersey ahead 82-75 with 6:04 left.

"Vince and Jason imposed their will on the game," Nets coach
Lawrence Frank said.

The Bobcats cut it to 91-87 on Primoz Brezec's free throw with
36.8 seconds left, but Krstic, Carter and Jacque Vaughn combined to
hit 4-of-6 free throws to seal the win.

"Vince is an All-Star, we all know he's going to get his, but
we still had a chance to win," Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace
said. "If you execute and do what you have to do on the offensive
end, you can still win. We didn't do that tonight."

Brezec had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Bobcats, who made
just 7-of-22 from the field in the fourth quarter. Charlotte had
won its last two games, including a home victory over East-leading
Miami on Saturday.

New Jersey missed 12 of its first 16 shots in the second quarter
as Charlotte built a 44-40 halftime lead.

"You have to find a way to win, and they are not all going to
be masterpieces, especially coming off two losses," Frank said.
"Winning on the road is not easy, and Charlotte competes hard
every night."

Bobcats leading scorer and rebounder Emeka Okafor, who suffered
a sprained left ankle in Saturday's win over Miami, was not
expected to play 45 minutes before tipoff, but started and had 15
points and 10 rebounds for his 37th double-double.

"It felt a lot better than I thought it would," Okafor said.
"I was out there during pregame warm-ups and decided to give it a
go. Its nothing too serious."

Game notes
Carter, held to 16 points in a 21-point loss to Minnesota on
Saturday, has scored 20 or more points in 27 of the past 29 games.
... Bobcats guard Keith Bogans played after missing three games
with back spasms. He had two points in six minutes. ... The Nets
hope to gain ground in the playoff race this week as they have
three more games against sub .500 teams -- the Los Angeles Clippers,
New York and Orlando.