Better With Vince

Vince Carter is proving just how valuable he is to not only the New Jersey Nets' success, but Richard Jefferson's as well.

With Carter back in the lineup, the Nets look to win their third straight on Sunday when they wrap up their four-game road trip with a matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Los Angeles -7.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 197 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 79% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -7.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

After losing all five games Carter missed because of a sprained right ankle, New Jersey (6-7) has won two straight with its eight-time All-Star back on the court.

Carter had 15 points in 35 minutes off the bench in Friday's 98-93 win over Seattle after scoring 13 in Wednesday's 106-101 victory at Portland.

Jefferson has benefited the most with Carter in the lineup, as he had his second straight 30-point game on Friday. Jefferson, averaging a career-high 24.9 points, scored 21.6 on 40.0 percent shooting in the games Carter missed compared to 27.0 while making 49.6 percent of his shots in the eight games with him.

"With all of us out there, it just makes us hard to guard and everybody benefits," Carter said.

Even with Carter back, Jefferson is still looking for a better team effort from the Nets. In Friday's win, New Jersey had a 13-point third-quarter lead cut to one in the final minute of the game before Jefferson had a layup and two free throws to seal the victory.

"I'm always going to look on the brighter side, I'm always optimistic, but if we want more, we've got to expect better from ourselves," said Jefferson, who has already made 116 free throws this season. "We can do a lot better, and as happy as I am to have a win and to get back-to-back wins and it looks like we're starting to play better, you can't just be happy with wins."

The Nets improved to 2-1 on their annual Thanksgiving road trip, and a victory in this game would give them their first winning record on the trip since 1998-99, when they won three of five. New Jersey, however, has not won three straight road games since taking six in a row March 12-April 9, 2006.

Los Angeles (7-5) is coming off a 107-94 loss at Boston on Friday, its second straight defeat following a four-game winning streak.

Kobe Bryant scored 28 points and is averaging 29.0 on 43.6 percent shooting in his last three games after averaging 18.5 on 35.3 percent shooting in his previous two.

In two games against the Nets last season, Bryant averaged 20.0 points on just 12-of-37 shooting (32.4 percent), but did post 10.5 assists - his most against any opponent. Bryant has been held to 21 points or less in five of his last seven games against New Jersey.

The Lakers, who finished with one victory on their three-game trip against Eastern Conference opponents, return to Staples Center, where they have won three straight by an average of 18.0 points. Los Angeles has won four of six at home this season.

In two games against Los Angeles last season, Carter averaged 27.0 points and 8.0 rebounds, while Jefferson averaged 16.0 points.

The Lakers swept two games from the Nets last season after New Jersey won both meetings in 2005-06.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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