Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 1/20

Game 1: Friday, January 20th
Game 2: Saturday, January 21st
Game 3: Friday, April 14th
Game 4: Sunday, April 16th

Celtics 83

(16-24, 4-16 away)

Nets 103

(22-16, 12-6 home)

8:00 PM ET, January 21, 2006

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

1 2 3 4 T
BOS 25 18 19 2183
NJ 31 30 30 12103

Top Performers

Bos: P. Pierce 20 Pts, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

NJ: V. Carter 25 Pts, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Nets get 25 from Carter, top-cold-shooting Celtics

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Though only January, the New Jersey Nets are already getting into a playoff state of mind.

A night after falling behind early and then falling short late at Boston, the Nets dominated the Celtics from the opening tip in the rematch and ran away to a 103-83 win Saturday night, their 13th in the last 17 games.

The disappointing performance Friday, particularly in the first half of the 99-96 loss, provided a significant motivating factor Saturday.

"It's like a playoff series," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "The team that is coming off a loss in a back-to-back situation almost has an advantage. But you still have to go out and do it. I thought our guys played with an edge. It was a good character win for us."

Vince Carter scored 25 points and Jacque Vaughn had a season-high 13 off the bench as the Nets' subs made up for the absence of center Jason Collins and forward Lamond Murray to knee injuries.

The reserves scored 31 points through three quarters, at which point the game was comfortably in hand for New Jersey, which has won eight straight at home.

"I thought we played like we were capable of playing," said reserve forward Scott Padgett, who matched Vaughn with 13 points. "We were upset with how the game went (Friday). It's a 48-minute game and we only played 24."

In Saturday's game, the Nets jumped ahead 15-4 and never let up, building the lead to 18 points at halftime and 91-62 at the end of three quarters.

The Celtics, who shot 51 percent Friday night, looked listless and had no response at either end. Boston -- the NBA's best-shooting team at 48 percent -- shot 38 percent from the field through the first three quarters.

"They beat us to all the loose balls. They outworked us tonight," said Paul Pierce, who led the Celtics with 20 points. "We knew they were going to come out with a better urgency than they did last night. That's what veteran teams do.

"We've got to take a page from their book. We've got to raise our intensity to the next level."

Vaughn, who is seeing more playing time since Jeff McInnis' knee injury last weekend, had several highlight plays, including a twisting left-handed layup on a fast break in the first quarter and a behind-the-back pass to Padgett for a dunk in the third quarter.

Carter, meanwhile, continued the kind of play that has fueled the Nets' rise to the top of the Atlantic Division in the last month -- and earned him NBA player of the month honors in December.

He scored 14 points in the first quarter and took a seat for good at the end of the third. Carter has led the Nets in scoring seven times in nine games this month, compared to eight times in the season's first month when the Nets went 7-8.

It all amounted to a game that resembled the previous night's for about the first 60 seconds.

"That's how this league goes -- you have to show up," said Jason Kidd, who sat out the fourth quarter and finished with seven points, eight assists and nine rebounds, missing a chance to get his 70th career triple-double.

"In the first half up there, we felt they were going through a walkthrough and we weren't even present. Tonight I thought we really focused on the defensive end." ^Notes:@ Murray underwent an MRI Saturday on the strained left knee he suffered Friday night at Boston, and Collins sat out with right knee soreness stemming from a collision with the 76ers' Allen Iverson last Wednesday. ... New Jersey F Clifford Robinson played in his 1,286th game, tying him with Sam Perkins for 11th place on the NBA's all-time list. Mark Jackson is 10th at 1,296 games. ... The Nets' 61 points in the first half were the most they had managed since scoring 63 in the first half of a 109-101 win at New York on Dec. 26. ... Boston has lost six of its last seven at Continental Airlines Arena.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 83 103
FGM-FGA 31-74 (.419) 35-75 (.467)
3PM-3PA 4-12 (.333) 4-17 (.235)
FTM-FTA 17-27 (.630) 29-37 (.784)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-33 14-49
Assists 21 22
Turnovers 15 15
Steals 10 7
Blocks 6 4
Fast Break Points 8 26
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 28 (1/0)
Largest Lead 0 34

Top Performers

New Jersey
Paul Pierce Pierce
Points: 20
Reb: 5
Ast: 2
Stl: 2
Blk: 0
Vince Carter Carter
Points: 25
Reb: 8
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 1