From The Barber’s Chair

By A. P. Ri'Chard
Updated: March 24, 2005

NEW JERSEY–The race is on—after a very impressive 98-91 victory over the Indiana Pacers (33-33) on Tuesday the New Jersey Nets (32-36) extended their win streak to five games and now find themselves in a dog fight with the 76’ers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Once again VinSanity went wild in East Rutherford as Vince Carter poured in 33 points on 13 of 21 from the field.

Rookie Center Nenad Krstic led a 14-2 run in the fourth as he scored seven of his 15 points.

“The team is headed for the playoffs and RJ (Richard Jefferson) is waiting. Philly has a slight edge right now (one game), but, the Nets have the heart to over take them,” little Ernest Palmer said of his favorite team.

With the score tied at 78 at the 6:21 mark of the forth Krstic (a seven footer out of Kraljevo) scored on a jump hook igniting the run that pushed the Nets ahead 87-80.

Jason Kidd kicked in 16 points, nine assists and seven boards.

“Right now we’re playing our best basketball, but at the same time we have a lot more to give and also to learn; we look forward to the challenge.” J-Kidd insisted after the win.

Stephen Jackson led all Pacers with 23 point while Reggie Miller scored 18 in his last regular season game at Continental Airlines Arena before retiring at the end of his 17 NBA seasons. In the absence of their best player (Jermaine O’Neal) the Pacers are desperately trying to hold on to a playoff spot as the lost put them at the five hundred mark (33-33).

“The shoulder is coming along; thanks for asking… I’m trying to rehab it so that I can be back in time for the playoffs.” O’Neal stated when approached.

“I know that the Nets beat those guys two times in three days but it would have meant more to me if O’Neal was in the line up. I don’t feel sorry for any team that has injuries because no one felt sorry for us after we lost RJ—to beat that team the last two games without their best player only excites me because we’re fighting for our playoff lives. Indiana picked up Dale Davis—he’s more the adequate to anchor the middle in O’Neal’s absence, so the 94-85 victory over the Pacers on Sunday, and tonight’s victory, is just what we need in our quest to make the playoffs,” Jason Earling commented.

The next four games (Memphis, Minnesota, Charlotte and Clippers) are winnable for the surging Nets as they try to regain respectability after a horrendous start to the 2004-2005 campaign.

“It’s been an interesting couple of games to see the level of intensity and level of focus we’ve found. We have the mentality to be a playoff team; we just have to finish the job.” Carter went on to say about the Nets chances of making the playoffs.

The Nets have fourteen game remaining on their schedule; they’ll play eight of those final fourteen at home. The team has to stay focus if they’re to have any chance of making the elite eight.