Focus on Kobe-Shaq, but Carter's performance can't be ignoredBylineBy The Associated PressBody CopyThe Los Angeles Lakers ignored the hype. The Miami Heat can only wish Vince Carter did the same.
There were 14 games in the NBA on Friday night, but most of the talk in Florida was about one that doesn't come until Sunday: the Lakers-Heat matchup that brings the next chapter in the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O'Neal rivalry.
Carter was listening, and didn't like what he heard. Then he went out and tied a career high with 51 points, scoring 37 in the second half, as the New Jersey Nets extended their season-high winning streak to five games with a 95-88 victory over the Heat.
"All day I've been watching TV and they were mentioning the Christmas Day game without mentioning they had a game tonight, or to watch the Nets," Carter said. "We're just trying to earn respect."
There were other impressive performances Friday \u2013 Allen Iverson scored 53 points, Washington's Gilbert Arenas had 41 and the Clippers' Elton Brand had 38 points and 20 rebounds \u2013 but Carter's stood out while coming against one of the league's best teams.
"Basically, one guy beat us. ... Vince was unbelievable," Heat coach Pat Riley said.
Riley's coaching matchup against Phil Jackson is another subplot of Sunday's second game, which follows the NBA Finals rematch between the Pistons and the Spurs. And while Jackson knows he has to talk about Sunday's game, he knew his biggest responsibility was keeping his team's attention on Friday's.
"This trip, you've got to do a lot of PR work for the league, pump up that Miami game on Christmas Day because they're asking you to do this all the time," Jackson said. "And don't forget, Orlando is just as important in the win-loss column."
The Lakers got the win as Kobe Bryant had 21 points and nine assists, and Chris Mihm scored 20 points in a 104-88 victory.
In other games, it was: Atlanta 111, Philadelphia 108; New York 98, Utah 90; the Los Angeles Clippers 97, Charlotte 88; Memphis 95, Chicago 77; Cleveland 94, Indiana 89; Detroit 97, Golden State 85; Portland 91, Minnesota 83; San Antonio 95, Toronto 90; Milwaukee 101, New Orleans 94; Denver 108, Houston 86; Washington 112, Phoenix 111; and Dallas 101, Seattle 98.
Playing for the first time since Bryant scored a career-high 62 points in a victory over Dallas, the Lakers relied on a much more balanced effort in Orlando. All five starters scored in double figures.
"I was worried about this game because everybody is talking about and looking forward to the Christmas game," Mihm said. "This is an easy one to overlook and let slip, but we came out and took care of business."
In Miami, Carter was 13-for-25 from the floor and 23-for-24 from the foul line, easily eclipsing his previous season-best of 38 points against Cleveland on Dec. 9. He's averaging 35.4 points on 49 percent shooting during the Nets' winning streak.
O'Neal had 24 points and 14 rebounds for Miami, but Dwyane Wade will need a much better performance Sunday against Bryant. He scored 17 points \u2013 on only 4-for-20 shooting \u2013 and was repeatedly beaten on defense by Carter.
"I take the blame for it," Wade said. "I did a bad job on him."
Hawks 111, 76ers 108
At Atlanta, Iverson scored 53 points, the fifth-highest total of his career, but the Hawks still won, behind 24 points from Joe Johnson.
Zaza Pachulia added 23 points, including the go-ahead free throws, and Al Harrington scored 22 for Atlanta, which won for the fifth time in six games.
Clippers 97, Bobcats 88
At Charlotte, N.C., Brand had 38 points and 20 rebounds as the Clippers pounded their way past the undermanned Bobcats. Chris Kaman added 22 points and a career-high 22 rebounds for the Clippers.
Wizards 112, Suns 111
Arenas scored 41 points, just enough for Washington to survive his poor foul shooting down the stretch and win at Phoenix.
Arenas missed three free throws in the final 44 seconds, coming up two points short of his season high. Caron Butler scored 26 points for the Wizards.
Pistons 97, Warriors 85
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Richard Hamilton scored 28 points, Ben Wallace added 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Detroit improved to 21-3.
Rasheed Wallace, whose cousin was killed in a shootout with Philadelphia police Thursday night, had 18 points for Detroit, which won its sixth in a row.
Spurs 95, Raptors 90
Tim Duncan made all four of his fourth-quarter shots and nearly finished with a triple-double to lead San Antonio to a home victory.
Duncan scored nine of his 27 points in the final period, and added 10 rebounds and eight assists. Jalen Rose led Toronto with 19 points, 11 in the fourth.
Cavaliers 94, Pacers 89
At Cleveland, LeBron James scored a season-low 14 points, but added nine assists and eight rebounds as the Cavaliers won their fifth straight.
Drew Gooden added a season-high 21 points and 12 rebounds on a tender ankle and Larry Hughes had 18 points for the Cavs. Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal scored a season-high 34 points with 11 rebounds and five blocks.
Knicks 98, Jazz 90
At New York, Jamal Crawford scored 28 points and Stephon Marbury had 22 points and seven assists as the Knicks snapped a season-high seven-game losing streak.
Grizzlies 95, Bulls 77
Mike Miller scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Pau Gasol added 19 points and 11 boards to lead Memphis over visiting Chicago.
Trail Blazers 91, Timberwolves 83
Zach Randolph had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Ruben Patterson added a season-high 23 points and Portland overcame coach Nate McMillan's ejection in its victory at Minnesota.
Wally Szczerbiak scored 26 points and Kevin Garnett added 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Wolves, who scored only 13 points in the final period.
Nuggets 108, Rockets 86
At Denver, Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and the Nuggets held Tracy McGrady to a single basket over the first three quarters to snap a four-game losing streak.
Marcus Camby had 12 points and 16 rebounds, and Andre Miller had 19 points and nine assists, as the Nuggets won for the first time since Dec. 13.
Bucks 101, Hornets 94
Michael Redd scored 14 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter for Milwaukee. Andrew Bogut added 14 points, T.J. Ford had 12 and Mo Williams 11 for the Bucks.
David West led the Hornets with 27 points and a season-high 18 rebounds. Rookie Chris Paul added 24 points as the Hornets lost for the sixth time in seven road games in December.
Mavericks 101, SuperSonics 98
Jason Terry made two 3-pointers in the final two minutes, the second with 18 seconds left, and Dallas rallied from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter at Seattle.
A night after scoring a season-high 37, Dirk Nowitzki followed up with 34 points and 13 rebounds.