It was a year that began with Richard Jefferson suffering a major wrist injury. There was the Shareef Abdur-Rahim offseason debacle and inconsistent play that nearly drove team president Rod Thorn mad.
However, as the calendar year comes to a close, the Nets aren't ready to say goodbye to 2005.
The surging Nets closed out the year with an eight-game winning streak after outlasting the Atlanta Hawks, 99-91, at the Meadowlands on Friday night.
The Nets (17-12) will ring in the New Year as one of the league's hottest teams. Detroit, which has won nine in a row, is the only team that is hotter. Thanks to a scheduling quirk, the Nets will have to ice their streak for six days before they play again, against Orlando on Friday. At the moment, however, nothing seems to faze the Nets.
"We've just committed to this team and turned things around," said Vince Carter, who scored 37 points and drilled five-of-seven 3-pointers. "We've gotten results. It feels good. It looks good and everybody kind of has their chests poked out now. We want to feel like we can compete with anybody, whether it's the best teams or worst teams, and still get the job done executing."
Hitting the road
The Nets will have to find a way to remain sharp and keep their momentum during their winter vacation. Of their 14 games next month, the Nets play 10 of them on the road in a 21-day stretch.
Jefferson has no complaints about playing so many games. Last January, he underwent surgery to repair a ruptured ligament in his left wrist and was shelved for 49 games in what was a depressing start to 2005 for the Nets.
"It was my first time being injured," said Jefferson, who scored 21 points and made two 3-pointers on Friday night, one a buzzer-beating bank shot at the end of the third quarter. "Made it back for the playoffs, and started off this season struggling, now we are playing well. Ups and downs. Hopefully we will have more ups than downs."
Those downs include the canceled Abdur-Rahim trade and a 12-game stretch this season in which the Nets lost eight times.
At the moment, however, the Nets keep rising in the standings.
Carter scored 23 points in the second half and Jacque Vaughn nailed three clutch jumpers in the final 4:53 to overcome the Hawks (7-21).
Showing why they have upset San Antonio, Indiana and Cleveland, the Hawks led 84-81 with 5:51 remaining. Al Harrington, playing in front of his hometown crowd, buried four-of-five three-pointers and scored 15 of his 26 points in the second half. Tyronn Lue scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and the Hawks appeared poised to snap the fourth-longest winning streak in Nets' franchise history.
However, as has been the case during their streak, the Nets had an answer, responding with an 11-2 run. Carter scored twice and he and Kidd fed Vaughn on two key jumpers. Jefferson capped the run with a three-pointer that gave the Nets a 92-86 lead with 1:52 left.
Lue scored on a three-point play to cut the lead to 94-91 with 1:05 to go, but Kidd fed Vaughn for a 20-foot baseline jumper. Carter then got a steal off Lue, was fouled and made two free throws to send the Nets into the New Year as winners.
"That was a big win for us," said Kidd, who scored 18 of his 21 points in the first half, burying seven of his first eight shots from the field, including four 3-pointers. "We ended the year right and now we have to move on."
In other NBA action: Miami 128, Washington 113; Toronto 99, Indiana 97; Orlando 107, Minnesota 87; Phoenix 110, Charlotte 100; Milwaukee 113, New York 108; Golden State 111, Dallas 109; Sacramento 116, Boston 112; Memphis 93, Portland 90.