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by Fred Kerber
New York Post (not online)

DALLAS - Richard Jefferson is getting closer to returning. Apparently.

Jefferson continued his rehab from his Jan. 22 right ankle surgery, but there still is no date for his return, though the Nets remain hopeful he will get on the court before their current road trip ends.

"We don't know exactly. We were hoping he'd come back at some point on the trip, that's why we brought him, otherwise we would have left him at home to rehab," said team president Rod Thorn. We'll just have to see."

Ideally, the Nets would like to have Jefferson for Saturday in San Antonio, but don't hold your breath. The trip concludes Monday in Memphis and Tuesday in Oklahoma City.

"The reason I can't tell you with utmost certainty anything is it all depends on how he feels the next day," said coach Lawrence Frank. "Right now, he's experiencing the normal soreness the doctors said would accompany this. But if it gets where there's swelling or there's something out of the ordinary, we're going to stay committed to him and not a timeline."

Vince Carter couldn't put his previous game in the rear-view mirror fast enough.

"I'm just going to play basketball. If I miss, I miss, but it's all about being aggressive and just continuing to play for my team," Carter said. "It's not about trying to get a bucket. That will come when it comes."

Of course, a bucket didn't come in Carter's final 14 shots on Sunday during the loss in Philadelphia, where he ended up 4-of-20. He made it 15 straight misses when he misfired on his first attempt last night but then hit his second. Still, he started 1-of-8.

Antoine Wright, despite strong protests that "I feel good," sat his fourth straight game with a bruised right elbow, so Hassan Adams got his fourth straight start.

The Nets bench had scored at least 30 points in 22 straight games (39.3 average) before last night. Last season, the Nets bench never scored 30 or more in as many as four straight games.