WASHINGTON -- Finally, an NBA star who likes the league's basketballs: Vince Carter, who figures his buzzer-beater got a funny roll thanks to the new rock.
Carter's 34 points included an odd-looking 3-pointer to force overtime, and Jason Kidd's 77th career triple-double included 18 assists Sunday night, leading the New Jersey Nets to a 105-93 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Would the old ball have gone in on Carter's last-gasp tying shot?
"If it would've hit like that? Heck no," he said. "No way."
The Wizards were seeking their first 4-0 start at home since the 1974-75 season, and they appeared headed in that direction when Michael Ruffin drew a charging call on Carter with 3.2 seconds left in regulation and the hosts up a point.
Two free throws by Jarvis Hayes stretched Washington's advantage to 87-84 with 2.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
"That was it," Hayes said.
Nope. That was enough time for Carter to come through, even though his shooting hand was taped after he reopened a cut.
"I told him in the huddle, 'This is your time to redeem yourself,"' Kidd said.
Carter came off two screens, caught the inbounds pass and launched a fadeaway, straightaway 3 that smacked the back of the rim, seemed to stay there for a moment, then dropped through the net as time expired.
"It didn't rattle. It just stuck," Kidd said. "The old ball maybe just hits the rim and bounces out. But you're going to see a lot of those balls maybe get stuck and roll in or get stuck and roll off. We were very fortunate that it stuck and rolled in."
The league changed its game ball for the first time in 35 years, replacing the old leather balls with a microfiber composite model. Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash and LeBron James are among those who've bad-mouthed the balls.
After Carter's shot, there was still an overtime to play, but the game essentially was over.
"Took the wind out of our sails a little bit," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said, then paused, before adding: "A lot."
"We tried to say, 'Let's play another five more minutes. Let's get back. Get your head back in it,"' Jordan said. "But it's tough. There's a human element to this doggone game. We're not robots."
The Nets dominated the rest of the way. Kidd fed Carter for an alley-oop dunk. Carter blocked Caron Butler's shot at the other end.
It all ran through Kidd, naturally.
He had 15 points, 11 rebounds and all of those assists, moving past Rod Strickland for seventh on the NBA career assists list with a total of 7,997. Kidd entered the game needing nine assists to pass Strickland -- and he managed to reach that figure in the first half alone, without committing a single turnover.
Kidd now stands one triple-double behind Wilt Chamberlain for third-most in NBA history.
"I thought Jason Kidd directed a floor game as well as anyone I've ever seen," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "He was phenomenal in terms of driving the ship."
But it was the Nets' defense that might have been the most impressive thing about their victory.
They held Gilbert Arenas to 6-for-23 shooting and 25 points -- 12.7 below his average this season at home, where the Wizards had been averaging 119 points.
The Wizards missed 10 of their first 11 shots, made a season-worst 35 percent from the field overall and trailed by as many as 16 points. Antawn Jamison was held to nine points on 3-for-16 shooting.
"They can put a lot of points on," Kidd said. "So we felt the only way we had a chance to win it was to keep it in the 80s or the low 90s."
Simple as that, huh?
- The Nets are 3-2; both losses were to Miami.
- Gary Payton is No. 6 on the career assists list, with 8,785 entering Sunday.
- Nets F Antoine Wright got his first NBA start, replacing Jefferson, who was hurt Friday against Miami. Wright played 35 minutes and scored one point.
- The Nets aren't saying how long they expect Jefferson to be out.