Nets clinch playoff berth with win over Hawks
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) – Vince Carter tipped in his own miss with 42.6
seconds left, as the Nets won their season-high 11th straight game and
clinched a playoff spot with a 91-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Richard Jefferson had 27 points and nine rebounds, while Carter tallied 26
points and nine rebounds for New Jersey, which secured its fifth
consecutive postseason appearance. Jason Kidd added 11 points and scored
New Jersey’s final five points on free throws, as the Nets reduced their
magic number to clinch the Atlantic Division to two.
“We knew we were going to have to grind it out,” Carter said. “I don’t care
what their record looks like. They come at you from start to finish.”
Joe Johnson scored 22 points and dished out eight assists for the Hawks, who
lost for the 10th time in 12 games. Josh Smith added 17 points, while Al
Harrington contributed 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for Atlanta,
which lost to the Nets for the eighth time in the last 10 meetings.
“You have to look back at me missing those layups and one time not getting a
shot,” Smith said. “It’s just different things that we didn’t do right
Atlanta has just 22 wins this season, but the Hawks made it tough on the Nets.
Josh Childress’ dunk tied the game at 84 with 55.6 seconds remaining. Carter
then missed a short shot, but scored on a second tip try.
Johnson then dribbled into the lane for the Hawks, but put the ball in Kidd’s
Kidd made one free throw before Harrington scored on a putback to make it
87-86 with 21.8 seconds remaining.
Kidd hit two more free throws with 18.2 seconds left, and Johnson missed a
long three-pointer. Kidd added two more foul shots with 4.9 seconds to go to
seal New Jersey’s victory.
Atlanta led by as many as 11 points early on at 20-9 and was ahead 27-19 after
one quarter. The Nets drew within 45-44 at the half, and Carter scored 14 of
his points in the third quarter. The Nets carried a 66-64 edge going into the
New Jersey also won 10 games in a row from December 16 – January 8 this
season. This is the Nets’ longest winning streak since a franchise-record 14-
game run from January 25 to February 24, 2004. The Nets also tied their second
longest road winning-streak (5) in franchise history…Childress scored 13
points…New Jersey won despite being outshot (47.3% – 34.7%)…The Nets went
37-of-42 at the foul line…New Jersey can clinch the Atlantic Division crown
as early as Sunday, with a home win over Miami combined with a Philadelphia
loss to New York.