VC, Jefferson help Nets hand Wizards third straight loss

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey Nets knew they needed to stop Gilbert Arenas. They were helped out when the NBA's third-leading scorer was benched most of the third quarter after a lackluster first half.

Vince Carter scored 19 points and Richard Jefferson had 16 points and 13 rebounds, leading New Jersey to an 89-83 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

"This is about the Washington Wizards, not Gilbert Arenas," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "It was the coach's decision to go with the five guys who were out there who would show a little more discipline. We had no discipline in the first half. Those five are the ones who we needed out there at that time."

Jason Kidd and Clifford Robinson had 12 points apiece and Nenad Krstic added 11 before fouling out for the Nets (5-4), who won their second straight and beat the Wizards for the 15th time in the last 18 meetings.

Antawn Jamison had 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead Washington (5-4), which lost its third straight.

Arenas, averaging 27.8 points per game, was held to 17 on 6-of-17 shooting before fouling out in the closing seconds. Held to just six points on 2-of-8 shooting in the first half, he did not play the first eight minutes of the third quarter.

"Mentally, I just wasn't into it," Arenas said. "That just happens sometimes in this league. It was just one of those days. I'm an All-Star and the team's leading scorer and I wasn't playing like one.

"If I'm a scorer and not shooting it well, then what am I doing out there? If [Jordan] can sit me down like that, then he can do it to anyone. He did it and I have to respect him for it. It was just a bad overall game for me. We totally got away from what we had been doing," he said.

The Nets went on a 15-1 run during a span of 4:23 in the second quarter to take control.

After Jefferson scored on consecutive dunks to start the run, Arenas made one free throw for the Wizards before the Nets scored 11 straight points. Carter capped the spurt with a breakaway layup and a high-flying dunk to give the Nets a 36-30 lead with 5:35 remaining in the second quarter.

"That second quarter really helped us to turn things around," Kidd said. "We then tried to carry that over throughout the game. We then concentrated on the little things that don't necessarily show up in the box score."

Brendan Haywood added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Wizards, who were just 17-of-31 (54 percent) from the free-throw line.

"We have to spend a little more time with free-throw shooting in practice," Jordan said. "I think we all have to look in the mirror and see what our emotional state is like. Give the Nets credit. They were well-prepared and more disciplined that we were."

Leading by seven at halftime, the Nets increased the lead to 65-55 on a free throw by Clifford Robinson with about 2 minutes left in the third.

However, Arenas, held to just nine points in the first three periods, scored six points in the Wizards' 8-0 Wizard run to start the fourth quarter that cut New Jersey's lead to 69-68 with 9:35 remaining.

Robinson connected on two straight corner jumpers, pushing the lead back to 75-70 with 7:10 left.

Caron Butler's jumper cut Washington's deficit to 83-80 with 1:45 remaining, but Carter made two free throws 13 seconds later and Kidd had four in the final 18 seconds to seal the Nets' win.

"It was just a team effort," Carter said. "We all knew that they had a high-powered offense. The game turned out to be very physical with a lot of energy. We expected that type of game from the beginning."

Jamison was the main cog in the first quarter for the Wizards, scoring 12 points and collecting five rebounds in the first 12 minutes, helping his team to a 27-19 lead after one period.

Washington cut the lead to 40-39 on a long jumper from Jarvis Hayes with 1:10 left, but the Nets scored the final six points of the first half, highlighted by another fast-break dunk from Carter, to take a 46-39 lead at the break.

Game notes
Nets forward Jason Collins, questionable before the game with a right leg muscle strain that forced him to miss two of the last three games, started and played sparingly. He finished with three points in 18 minutes. ... Arenas was inexplicably absent from action to start the second half. Team officials said that there was nothing wrong with Arenas, who came into the game with consecutive 30-point performances but was held to just six first-half points on 2-of-8 shooting. Arenas entered the game with 2:55 left in the third quarter and quickly picked up two fouls in 34 seconds after returning. ... It was a homecoming of sorts for Jordan and assistant coach Mike O'Koren, who not only played with the Nets but also served as assistant coaches with the team during their consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals (2002 and 2003). ... The Nets failed to shoot 50 percent from the floor for the
ninth straight game, connecting on 44 percent (34-of-77).