|New York vs New Jersey|
|101 - 109|
Turns out, the New York Knicks never figured it out.
Vince Carter scored 27 points and Richard Jefferson added 23 to lead the Nets to their sixth consecutive win, a 109-101 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.
"When V.C. is aggressive like that and R.J. is doing the same thing," Nets reserve Clifford Robinson said, "it's going to open up opportunities for everybody else."
Carter has led New Jersey in scoring in all six wins. He has averaged 34 points during that span, New Jersey's longest winning streak since winning a franchise-record 14 straight in 2004.
"He's stepped it up," Jefferson said. "His job is to be our scorer. We look to him and fall behind him. He needs to be as aggressive as possible."
Jason Kidd added nine assists and Robinson added a season-high 16 points. Jefferson made all eight of his shots.
Rookie Nate Robinson scored a season-high 21 points and sparked a brief scuffle under the Nets' basket when he committed a hard foul on Jacque Vaughn with 7:07 remaining in the game and New Jersey up 101-89. There was some grabbing and three technical fouls were called, but it was broken up without further incident.
"It just seems people get together and they think you're going to fight," Nate Robinson said. "He came at me and I am like 'dude chill out, you got the foul."
Added Jefferson: "That was a small incident. If anything you think it would pump them up."
Stephon Marbury also scored 21 points and Channing Frye added 18 for New York, which was trying to win consecutive games for only the second time this season.
First-place New Jersey finished off a perfect three-game road trip before heading home to face LeBron James and Cleveland on Tuesday night.
The Nets' lead ballooned to 17 points with 1:09 left in the third quarter as Kidd was able to drive through the porous New York defense at will, setting up teammates with uncontested jump shots. New Jersey led 93-75 after three.
"We got beat on dribble penetration and that was huge," Brown said. "They have a bunch of guys that can shoot and pass the ball. When you have Jason (Kidd), it becomes contagious."
The Knicks got within 103-94 after Jamal Crawford finished a three-point play off a nice feed from Nate Robinson with 5:41 remaining. Crawford then made two free throws to make it a seven-point game, but the Knicks would get no closer.
Six free throws down the stretch by Carter sealed the victory.
"I think we have to realize something," Knicks forward Antonio Davis said, "and until we do we'll keep coming in this locker room feeling bad about the results of the game."
Eddy Curry entered with 5:19 remaining in the first quarter after missing four straight games with a sprained left ankle. He finished with seven points in 15 minutes.
The Nets did not exhibit any rust from the two-day Christmas layoff. Carter staked the Nets to a 32-20 first-quarter lead with 11 points as New Jersey shot 63 percent from the field.
Consecutive alley-oop dunks by Jefferson and Carter -- the second off a pinpoint, sideline inbounds pass from Kidd with 1.9 seconds to go -- gave New Jersey a 63-50 halftime lead. The Nets finished the half shooting 61 percent and fell three points shy of their highest-scoring first half of the season. They scored 66 on Dec. 18 against Golden State.
Jefferson scored 14 first-half points on 5-of-5 shooting. Frye scored 16 in the first half and Marbury added 10.
New Jersey took three of four games from New York last season. ... This was the 12th regular season meeting between Kidd and Marbury since they were traded for each other in 2001. ... New Jersey is 14-0 when leading after three quarters. ... The crowd cheered loudly when New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan was shown on the Garden big screen.