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Kidd, Carter return to form as Nets beat Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jason Kidd returned to being dominant, and
helped the New Jersey Nets even their first-round series with the
Indiana Pacers.

Kidd, who acknowledged he had been outplayed by Indiana's
Anthony Johnson the first three games of the Eastern Conference
series, had a strong all-around game with 10 points, eight assists,
six rebounds and three steals to lead the Nets to a 97-88 victory
in Game 4 on Saturday.

New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said though Johnson has played
well, he likes his point guard.

"Jason's been great," he said. "Jason's value has nothing to
do with the box score. Jason, you feel his presence. Jason imposes
his will on the game, and that's what he did today. Give me Jason
Kidd any day of the week."

The Pacers finished with 23 turnovers which led to 23 New Jersey
points. Johnson, who had 12 points, four assists and six turnovers,
said he became overzealous while trying to help the Pacers come
back from a double-digit deficit.

"Playing from behind against those guys is not the recipe for
success," he said. "We didn't give ourselves a chance with those
turnovers. Instead of being patient, I got myself into trouble. I
got too deep trying to make plays that weren't there."

Vince Carter scored 28 points, Richard Jefferson had 22 and
Nenad Krstic 21. Game 5 is Tuesday night in New Jersey.

Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal scored 22 points before fouling out
with 1:21 left. He had dunked on the previous play to cut New
Jersey's lead to 93-88, but got caught on Jefferson's drive to the
basket.

"The sixth foul call on Jermaine was a tough call," Indiana
coach Rick Carlisle said. "I thought he jumped straight up, but
then there was contact and the ref made the call that he saw. It
was unfortunate because we were really starting to gather momentum
at that time."

O'Neal, who has been in foul trouble for most of the series,
isn't sure why he can't get a call.

"It's just a situation where sometimes, you just don't
understand," he said. "You try your best to keep playing, you try
to stay focused, try to stay ready. It's tough to continue to watch
for four quarters."

Peja Stojakovic, the Pacers' second-leading scorer in the
regular season, sat out with an injured right knee.

"Peja's a great player," Frank said. "Obviously, Peja
stretches the defense. He's one of their best players. We're aware
of what he means to their team."

New Jersey led 76-57 at the end of the third quarter, but the
Nets helped the Pacers get back into the game. Two quick technical
fouls were called on Jefferson and Frank with 12:15 left in the
fourth quarter and the Nets' Jason Collins was called for a
flagrant foul on O'Neal with 10:01 left. The Pacers took advantage
and went on a 13-3 run that cut the deficit to 79-70 and forced a
New Jersey time out with 9 minutes left.

A three-point play by Stephen Jackson and a 3-pointer by Johnson
cut New Jersey's lead to 91-86 with 2:10 left, but the Pacers got
no closer.

"Through all that, our guys kept their composure," Frank said.
"Indiana made a run and we were able to weather the storm and
execute down the stretch."

O'Neal picked up two fouls in the first 3 minutes, and New
Jersey took advantage by running out to a 19-8 lead. The Pacers
were held to 33 percent shooting and had six turnovers in the first
quarter. New Jersey scored nine points off those turnovers to take
a 24-15 lead at the end of the period.

The Pacers had 10 more turnovers in the second quarter.
Jefferson scored 15 points in the first half to help the Nets take
a 50-37 lead into the break. New Jersey's lead would have been
larger if Austin Croshere hadn't made four 3-pointers in the second
quarter to keep the Pacers in range.

The Pacers outscored the Nets 31-21 in the fourth quarter, but
by then, it was too late to affect the outcome. O'Neal said the
Pacers need to get off to a better start in Game 5.

"We've been a very good response team," he said. "Hopefully,
we'll jump on them early and the game will be played on the
court."

Game notes
Indiana backup point guard Jamaal Tinsley missed his second
straight game because of a sore right Achilles' tendon. ... O'Neal
made 13 of 14 free throws in Game 3, but just six of nine in Game
4. ... New Jersey is 14-for-59 from 3-point range in the series.