NBA Basketball: Washington Wizards at New Jersey Nets - Nets Favored
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The New Jersey Nets have rebounded from a skid thanks to the strong play of their leading scorer. The Washington Wizards could use a similar performance from their top scoring threat as they try to avoid a third straight loss.
The Nets (27-30) go for their third win in a row Tuesday when they host a Washington squad trying to avoid its longest slide in three months.
New Jersey is on the playoff bubble in the Eastern Conference, but Carter is doing his best to get the team into the postseason for the sixth straight time. He's reached the 40-point mark four times this season, but two of those performances have come in the last three games.
Carter had 40 points, nine rebounds and eight assists Sunday to lead the Nets to a 101-92 win over the New York Knicks. He was 11-of-12 from the free-throw line and hit two long 3-pointers early in the second half to spark New Jersey, helping it win its second consecutive game after dropping three straight.
"It was sending a message like, 'I'm here,'" Nets coach Lawrence Frank said of Carter's 3s. "We feed off Vince and they were big rhythm shots. He's definitely playing at a higher level right now on both ends of the floor. Vince understands his responsibility and sets the tone for everything we do."
Carter did that in a 105-93 overtime win against the Wizards on Nov. 12, scoring 34 points and going 5-of-8 from 3-point range, including a 3 that forced the extra period.
That type of play has helped New Jersey win four of the last five meetings with Washington and 10 of 11 at home.
Nets point guard Jason Kidd, who's playing with a cracked rib, had 15 points, 18 assists and 11 rebounds in the last meeting. He had 11 points and 14 assists Sunday and became the team's career leader in 3-pointers with his 688th, passing Kerry Kittles.
Washington (31-23) shot just 35.1 percent (33-of-94) in the Nov. 12 loss, with leading scorer Gilbert Arenas scoring 25 points but going 6-of-23 from the field. Arenas is averaging 29.2 points this season, but is scoring only 17.4 per game on 34.1 percent shooting in 12 career contests against the Nets - both his worst marks against any opponent.
The All-Star guard shot 4-of-22 and went 1-of-11 from beyond the arc Sunday, finishing with 20 points as the Wizards lost 98-94 to Minnesota.
"They just said, 'Hey. We will just let those guys shoot and we will load up on Gil,'" said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, whose team went 32-for-85 (37.6 percent) from the floor.
DeShawn Stevenson picked up some of the slack with 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and reserve Roger Mason had a season-high 13 points, but Washington played without All-Star forward Caron Butler because of back spasms.
Jordan said Butler, his second-leading scorer and rebounder, is a game-time decision for Tuesday as the Wizards get set to try and avoid their first three-game losing streak since a four-game slide Nov. 21-25.
"It's real tight and I am not as mobile as I want to be out there," Butler said Monday. "If it was something I could play through, I would definitely play through it, but it got to the point where it was too hard. I want to be a hero, but I want to be a healthy one."
Southeast Division-leading Washington is averaging 105.4 points, but has been held under 95 in two straight games and five of seven. The Wizards are concluding a three-game road trip, while the Nets are 2-1 on a five-game homestand.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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