Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/30

Game 1: Friday, December 30th
Game 2: Monday, February 27th
Game 3: Friday, March 31st
Game 4: Tuesday, April 4th

Hawks 94

(22-51, 7-30 away)

Nets 96

(45-28, 27-9 home)

Coverage: FSS

7:30 PM ET, April 4, 2006

IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

1 2 3 4 T
ATL 15 22 20 3794
NJ 23 22 33 1896

Top Performers

Atl: J. Johnson 33 Pts, 6 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

NJ: V. Carter 27 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Nets' 13th straight win comes on heels of division title

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey Nets had the Atlantic Division wrapped up and were coasting to their 13th straight win before they got complacent and needed to fight off the Atlanta Hawks.

The Nets tied the longest winning streak in the NBA this season and clinched their fourth division title in five years Tuesday night with a 96-94 win over the Hawks.

Despite blowing all but one point of a 23-point fourth-quarter lead, the Nets were able to prevail behind 27 points and some clutch foul shooting from Vince Carter.

New Jersey unraveled on offense as the young Hawks, who were without three players, went on a 24-2 run and almost stole the game. An offensive foul on Joe Johnson with 8.9 seconds left ended Atlanta's last chance.

Jason Kidd, who finished with 11 points and 13 assists, feels that the Nets could benefit from the close call.

Streaks "can be dangerous, because you can get complacent and feel like you can turn it on and off at any time," Kidd said. "Tonight was one of those nights. We have to understand that we have to play 48 minutes."

The Nets (45-28) had already clinched the division title before the end of Tuesday's game, courtesy of Philadelphia's 124-91 loss to Cleveland. New Jersey's starters were on the bench early in the fourth quarter before Atlanta (22-51) rallied behind Johnson, who finished with 33 points, and sub guard Anthony Grundy, who was signed to a 10-day contract last week.

Grundy scored eight points in the run and Atlanta trailed just 82-81 with 5:20 left on Donta Smith's alley-oop dunk. Atlanta was behind 89-87 with 1:25 left when Carter was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer by Smith. He made all three free throws to extend the lead to five.

They needed every one of them as Atlanta got five more points from Johnson sandwiched around two free throws by New Jersey's Nenad Krstic, who finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds. After a miss on a tip by Carter, the Hawks had a chance to tie or take the lead when Johnson was whistled for the offensive foul.

"For that to be the deciding point in the game, I thought it was a tough call," said Johnson.

The Nets can equal the franchise-record 14-game winning streak at home Thursday against Charlotte. They remained 3½ games behind Miami for the No. 2 record in the Eastern Conference after Miami beat Milwaukee 115-89.

The Nets players appear to view the streak and the division title as little more than appetizers before the main course.

"I remember when I first got here, everyone was all excited about winning the division," said Richard Jefferson, who scored 17 points. "Now it's kind of like you don't even see that many smiles. It's kind of like this is a part of it, where you expect to be.

"This is just one step. The first thing is to make the playoffs, then you want to win the division, then you want to get homecourt. They're steps on the road of what you're trying to accomplish."

Game notes

Dallas also owns a 13-game winning streak this season ... Carter scored 20 points for the 18th straight game, tying a club record ... Nets coach Lawrence Frank on winning the division title: "It's a very noble achievement. It speaks a lot about those guys in the locker room. We've been able to get it done four of five years since Jason's been here, turning around the whole franchise." ... The Hawks played without C Zaza Pachulia (flu), G Josh Childress (ankle sprain) and F Marvin Williams (attending to personal matters) ... For the second straight game, the 7-foot Krstic got out ahead of the pack on a fast break and dunked.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 94 96
FGM-FGA 37-85 (.435) 33-86 (.384)
3PM-3PA 6-21 (.286) 5-22 (.227)
FTM-FTA 14-22 (.636) 25-31 (.806)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-49 17-51
Assists 26 25
Turnovers 14 13
Steals 6 4
Blocks 8 9
Fast Break Points 13 11
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (0/0) 20 (1/0)
Largest Lead 2 23

Top Performers

New Jersey
Joe Johnson Johnson
Points: 33
Reb: 6
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Vince Carter Carter
Points: 27
Reb: 9
Ast: 1
Stl: 2
Blk: 1