EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After spending the end of the third quarter in the locker room showing doctors what he could do with a strained right quad, Vince Carter spent the fourth quarter giving the Utah Jazz a look.
Carter scored 13 of his 30 points down the stretch when he almost single-handedly held off Utah, leading the New Jersey Nets to a 96-89 victory on Wednesday night that knocked the Jazz from the unbeaten ranks.
"To see him come back and take over the game, that's just Vince," Jason Kidd said after sending Utah to its first loss in five games and leaving the New Orleans Hornets (4-0) as the NBA's only remaining undefeated team a little more than a week into the season.
Carter was hurt with 5:01 left in the third quarter when Gordan Giricek grabbed his shoulder on a layup that turned into a three-point play. Carter immediately started hobbling after landing. He was eventually taken to the locker room before the quarter ended.
A Nets spokesman told reporters that Carter was questionable to play in the fourth quarter.
However, once the teams left the bench, Carter was on the floor.
After taking a couple of tentative shots, Carter ignored some sharp pains and got going. He was 3-of-5 from the floor, 7-of-9 from the free throw line and added an assist and a rebound.
"I felt if I was going to be on the floor, I have just got to go and play," Carter said.
Richard Jefferson added 23 points, Kidd had 15 and Antoine Wright scored a career-high 15, including a clutch 3-pointer with 3:41 left in the final quarter after Utah had drawn within 85-84.
Carlos Boozer, the Western Conference player of the week, had 15 points for the Jazz, but he spent the fourth quarter on the bench as Jazz coach Jerry Sloan used Matt Harpring and Paul Millsap up front along with Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur.
"They had a small lineup out there," Sloan said of benching Boozer. "It would have very difficult for me to play him out there. They had four guys who could put the ball on the floor."
Derek Fisher also scored 15 and Williams had 10 of his 14 points in the final quarter to help the Jazz nearly fight back from a 10-point deficit.
"We got off to a bad start and you can't to that against a good team," Williams said.
However, they never got closer than a point as Carter scored 13 of the Nets' final 20 points to prevent the Jazz from the third 5-0 start in their 32-year history.
Okur had nine of his 13 points in the final quarter. Kirilenko finished with six points on 2-of-10 shooting.
New Jersey, which led by as many as 14 points in the second half, had a 76-66 lead after Jefferson slammed home a dunk early in the fourth quarter.
Okur got the Jazz back in the game with five straight points and Utah kept inching closer the rest of the way.
After Wright's 3-point gave New Jersey an 88-84 lead, Okur hit a free throw and Fisher added two more to cut the lead to 88-87. Carter then drove the lane for a basket with 2:14 to go before a layup by Harpring with 1:46 left got the Jazz within 90-89.
Carter hit two free throws to push the lead to 92-89 with 1:32 to play. Okur missed the next two shots, including a game-tying 3-point attempt with 35 seconds left, and the Nets were not threatened again.
Utah scored a season-low 41 points in the first half.
- Clifford Robinson returned to the Nets' lineup after sitting out the final two games of a five-game suspension for violating the NBA drug policy during the playoffs.
- The game pitted the Collins brothers for the seventh time, Jason of the Nets and Jarron of the Jazz. Jason now leads the series 4-3.
- Utah averaged 106 points in winning its first four games.
- Okur had a string of three straight double-doubles snapped.