Knicks 83 - Nets 96
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L
83
96
New York @ New Jersey
83 - 96
Record: 14-34
Channing Frye, minutes before the end (AP Photo)
Channing Frye, minutes before the end (AP Photo)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Vince Carter 's 360-degree spin around Eddy Curry in the third quarter for an acrobatic finger roll wasn't even the most impressive thing to the Nets. Nor was it the 12 straight games they have won at home, one off the franchise record.

The number everyone wanted to focus on after Wednesday night's 96-83 win was 31, the number of assists the Nets had on their 34 field goals. It was the third consecutive game New Jersey had totaled more than 30 assists, and it constitutes a mini-trend within the larger winning streak.

The two are intertwined, needless to say.

"It's contagious," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "It starts at the top with Jason (Kidd) and goes across the board. It's looking for the best shot no matter who it is, as long as it's an uncontested look."

Carter led the Nets with 22 points and he added seven assists despite leaving the game briefly near the end of the first quarter after being hit in the nose by teammate Scott Padgett . Richard Jefferson scored 18 points and combined with Carter and Kidd for 21 assists.

With Carter on the bench having his nose tended to - it was not broken, and he wore no bandage on it after the game - Jefferson took over and drove for a basket, then drove twice more but kicked the ball out to Padgett for consecutive 3-pointers.

Those points rallied the Nets within a basket at 24-22, and after tying the game on a jumper by Jefferson at the end of the quarter, they never trailed again.

Jefferson echoed Frank's credit to Kidd for creating an atmosphere of sharing.

"Guys learn so much from him about how to read defenses because you're with him every day in practice," he said.

New Jersey (26-21) led by 13 at halftime and sprinted away in the third quarter with a series of highlight-reel plays including consecutive fast-break dunks by Carter followed by a reverse dunk by Jefferson.

Carter had the play of the game with his 360-degree spin and finger roll past Curry for a three-point play that gave the Nets a 62-42 lead.

"My goal was just to get it up in the air near the rim and hope it went in," Carter said. "It was a H-O-R-S-E shot."

The Nets can tie the franchise record for consecutive home wins, set in 2001-2002 and equaled in 2002-2003, Friday night against San Antonio.

The Knicks (14-34), who have lost 13 of their last 14 games, were led by Jalen Rose 's 22 points but had no other starter score in double figures. After the game they held a closed-door meeting with coach Larry Brown and assistant coach Herb Williams.

Brown offered a harsh assessment of his team's effort.

"As a coach, you have a responsibility to have your team play better," he said. "Obviously, watching this tonight, we're not playing better. I want to play guys who show desire to win and desire to compete. That's what Herb talked about after the game. As coaches, you can't be out there begging guys to compete and to have a will to win."

New York fell to 0-7 without injured point guard Stephon Marbury . The acquisition of Rose from Toronto has yet to change the team's losing ways.

"Any time a coach addresses a team after a loss like this, it's disappointing," said Curry. "We've got to leave the coaching to them and the effort is up to us. The bad part is, we've heard this before."

Notes:
Referee Dick Bavetta officiated his 2,135th consecutive game, breaking the record for most games officiated set by former ref Jake O'Donnell ... Knicks F Maurice Taylor bruised his left knee in the first half and did not return ... Kidd left the game briefly in the first quarter after getting hit in the face accidentally by New York's Jamal Crawford . He returned later in the quarter with a bandage over his left eye for what he said was a scratch ... Carter flattened Malik Rose with a blind pick on the last play of the first half, leaving Rose temporarily dazed. He did not return ... The Knicks have used 29 different starting lineups this season, the most in the NBA. "Everybody counts how many lineups we've had, but every day when I go into the dressing room I don't know who's going to be healthy and that impacts the lineup," Brown said.

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