Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 1/21

Game 1: Friday, January 21st
Game 2: Wednesday, February 2nd
Game 3: Saturday, April 9th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 20th

Celtics 86

(41-35, 15-22 away)

Nets 99

(38-39, 22-17 home)

1:00 PM ET, April 9, 2005

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

1 2 3 4 T
BOS 19 25 19 2386
NJ 37 18 30 1499

Top Performers

Bos: P. Pierce 16 Pts, 6 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

NJ: V. Carter 45 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

Kidd dishes out season-high 17 assists

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Making a pregame speech about being ready for the opening tipoff wasn't enough for Vince Carter. His contribution to the New Jersey Nets' playoff push was a career-best quarter and almost a career-best game.

Carter outscored the Boston Celtics 24-19 in the first quarter en route to a season-best 45 points, leading the Nets to a 99-86 victory Saturday afternoon.

"With these last six or seven games I am just trying to take it up one more notch," Carter said after the Nets won for the 11th time in 14 games. "I am just trying to get everyone to focus in a little more. I am just trying to grab and pull everything out of each player to commit to these last couple of games. I think we are capable of being in the playoffs. If you get in you never know what can happen."

Jason Kidd added a season-high 17 assists and rookie center Nenad Krstic had 17 points.

The Nets (38-39) have five games to play in their bid to catch Philadelphia or Cleveland for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"If everybody is together and everybody is focused, we're a pretty tough team to beat," Carter said. "From the time I woke up until game time, the same thing ran through my head. I wanted to make sure everyone was in it. With a team like Boston, it's important for us to play our best basketball early."

Paul Pierce had 16 points to lead the Celtics, who saw coach Doc Rivers get ejected after just 1:41 for arguing a call with referee Tim Donaghy. The good news for Rivers was he didn't have to watch Carter beat his team.

The All-Star finished 18-of-32 from the field, including 7-of-9 from 3-point range. He hit his first six shots and 9-of-10, including all five 3-pointers, in the first quarter as New Jersey took a 37-19 lead.

"I hit a few of them and just felt good," said Carter, who felt his shooting range was limitless Saturday. "Once I got confident I tried to get where I could be effective."

With Carter hitting almost everything, Kidd said his job was easy -- just give Carter the ball, something he did a dozen times for assists.

"When he is going like that, you don't want to get out of his way. You want to be right there to help him out when they come to double," Kidd said. "But it didn't matter if they double-teamed. He was just going to shoot over people this afternoon and he did that."

The 24 points were a single-quarter high in the NBA this year -- four players had 22. The total for the quarter was also Carter's best in his seven-year career, four better than his previous high, last done against Golden State on Nov. 7, 2001.

"It doesn't bother me if a guy is hot," Pierce said. "When a guy is hot and you are down 16 to 18 points, that's more deflating than the guy making every shot."

While his opening quarter was spectacular, Carter had other moments that got the fans out of their seats. He hit a late 3-pointer in the second quarter that helped New Jersey take a 55-44 halftime lead. And he had two phenomenal plays in the third quarter with Boston still close.

With Boston trailing 64-53, Carter hit a layup and then got up off the court and made an alley-oop layup on a pass from Kidd. What made the play so interesting was that Celtics guard Gary Payton pushed Carter to the floor and stood over him for a couple of seconds before Carter got up and made the play.

The other highlight came on a fast break. Carter probably should have been called for an offensive foul, but he took a pass from Kidd and, with his back to the basket, threw a shot over his shoulder that banked in. The officials didn't seem to care that Delonte West was bowled over on the play.

"That's the beauty of being a teammate of Vince, you see that in practice all the time," Kidd said.

Carter's career best is 51 against Phoenix in 2000. The Nets' franchise single-game record is 52 points, set by Mike Newlin against Boston in 1979 and matched by Ray Williams at Detroit in 1982.

Rivers was hit with consecutive technical fouls by Donaghy for arguing an offensive foul call against Antoine Walker.

"I don't care if your coach does get kicked out of a basketball game," Payton said. "We still know how to play basketball. We know all our offensive plays. We don't make excuses because our coach got kicked out."

Game notes

Walker returned to the Celtics lineup after missing three games with a bruised left knee. He had six points. ... New Jersey leads the season series with Boston 2-1. The teams will play on the final day of the regular season. ... Nets official scorer Herb Turetzky worked his 900th consecutive home game, a streak that started on May 3, 1984.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 86 99
FGM-FGA 33-73 (.452) 41-87 (.471)
3PM-3PA 4-18 (.222) 9-21 (.429)
FTM-FTA 16-25 (.640) 8-10 (.800)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-38 9-39
Assists 27 34
Turnovers 22 15
Steals 5 15
Blocks 6 3
Fast Break Points 10 18
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 15 (3/0) 25 (0/0)
Largest Lead 0 27

Top Performers

New Jersey
Paul Pierce Pierce
Points: 16
Reb: 6
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 2
Vince Carter Carter
Points: 45
Reb: 7
Ast: 3
Stl: 4
Blk: 1