TORONTO (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Nets got healthy and into first place on Sunday.
Kenyon Martin scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Nets moved into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with a 96-87 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
The Nets starting forward had missed three games with a sprained right knee and was listed as questionable right until game time. But he returned in time to lead New Jersey (48-29) the Detroit Pistons for the top spot in the East.
"I wanted to see what I could do and it felt good once I got going," said Martin, who shot 10-of-21 from the field. "It's been tough sitting around, so it felt good to come out and contribute."
"He was big down low and defensively," Nets point guard Jason Kidd said. "He's been out, so for him to come out and get some of the rust off and look as good as he did is a big plus for us."
The Pistons lost, 89-83, to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night.
"This win was huge," Martin said. "It's very important in terms of controlling the East. Detroit has some tough games so we needed to come up here and get a win."
Richard Jefferson added 16 points and Lucious Harris - who also sat out the past three contests with a sprained left ankle - contributed 15 for New Jersey, which has won six of its past seven.
The Nets, who have won five of their last six meetings with the Raptors overall, took the season series for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign. They have won three straight in a series that concludes at Continental Airlines Arena on April 12.
Vince Carter led Toronto with 28 points but suffered a moderate left ankle sprain with 31 seconds left. Carter went up for a turnaround jumper and came down on Jefferson's foot. While X-rays came back negative, he will likely miss the remainder of the season.
"It looks like a bad sprain," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said. "We watched it on the replay and he comes down and catches his foot on the side of Richard Jefferson's foot and turns it. You can see that he turned it pretty good."
"Yeah, he came down on my foot," said Jefferson, who currently stars in a sneaker commercial with Carter.
Carter scored just eight points after halftime.
"J-Kidd was basically directing me, and Vince heard what he was saying and it really just messed up his whole game plan," Jefferson said. "I was more of a decoy up on him and J-Kidd was really the defender."
New Jersey took control in the third quarter with a 25-10 run which began with 7:22 left on Kerry Kittles' reverse layup and closed with 40 seconds to go on a 3-pointer by Kidd that put the Nets ahead, 76-63.
"In the second half, we just stayed patient," said Kidd, who had just five points but dished out 13 assists and pulled down six rebounds. "They made a run at us, but we executed and got good shots. Make or miss, we had good shots and we didn't turn the ball over, and that's what you have to do to be successful in the playoffs."
Carter's basket with 1:38 left moved Toronto within 92-85, but Martin made a layup and Harris drained a 13-foot jumper to seal the victory.
Wilkens was asked why Carter was playing late in the game for the lottery-bound Raptors.
"There was still time and guys want to win, so we're out there trying to win," he said. "We're trying to score and the game's not over. You hit a couple of 3-point shots, which has been done, and all of a sudden it changes things. We don't have Voshon (Lenard, out with a right knee contusion), so we don't have another 2-guard there and (Carter) was playing pretty good down the stretch."
"Ankles are a hot spot and you can get a lot of pain down in that area, especially when all your weight comes down on somebody's foot like that," said Toronto forward Jerome Williams, who had nine points and eight rebounds. "It was tough. We are out there to win games. We don't want anyone to get hurt but at the same time we're not going to cash in the season."
Jason Collins scored a season-high 14 points for the Nets, who shot 48 percent (37-of-77) from the field and yielded only three points on 10 turnovers.
Morris Peterson contributed contributed 18 points and Alvin Williams had 10 and eight assists as the Raptors lost for the 13th time in their last 17 games. They shot 41.5 percent (34-of-82), including 5-of-14 from 3-point range, and were outscored, 33-14, on fast break points.