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Carter struggles in Nets' loss to Raptors

Dec 16, 2006 - 4:05 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- Vince Carter's latest trip North of the Border was nothing like his previous three.

Carter struggled throughout as the New Jersey Nets dropped a 90-78 decision to the Toronto Raptors, who received a solid all-around game from T.J. Ford.

Facing the Raptors nearly two years to the day after he was dealt to the Nets, Carter never was able to find a rhythm as he scored 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting, including missing all six of his attempts from 3-point range.

"It was just one of those nights where I just couldn't really get into a rhythm," said Carter, who also went just 4-of-8 at the free-throw line. "More than anything, I'm just disappointed about my free-throw shooting. Outside of the missing shots, they were good shots and shots that I hit the last two games. I got the shots I wanted - they just didn't go in."

"(Vince) loves coming here and playing, but he is human and we can't always just sit back and hope he goes for 30," said Nets point guard Jason Kidd, who scored 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting. "Everybody has to do their part, and he just had a bad game in his book. We know he will bounce back."

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell devised the defensive game plan to try to slow down Carter, who had scored 73 points in his previous two games.

"We wanted to crowd Vince and we wanted him to see a lot of bodies," Mitchell said. "We didn't want to give him any threes because he's just been shooting them so well, and then you've got to worry about him driving to the basket. We just wanted to not give him any open lanes. He's just such a good player. It's tough, but our guys just continue to work hard."

In his previous three visits to Toronto as a member of the Nets, Carter had averaged 33.7 points.

Carter said he was not deterred by the boos.

"I could care less. It doesn't bother me at all," he said. "I don't hear (the boos). Everywhere you go, you hear something. You know people are yelling, but you don't get caught up in that. I've been playing ball for too long for that to bother me. I hate when my family yells at me more - that bothers me. This is nothing."

While Carter never was able to get going, Ford was solid throughout as he finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Ford scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, when the Raptors nearly squandered an eight-point lead before eventually pulling away.

Anthony Parker and Joey Graham added 15 points apiece for the Raptors, who have won two straight following a four-game losing streak.

The Raptors held a 70-69 lead with 7:32 remaining before taking control with a 14-3 surge. New Jersey had used a 13-6 burst in less than five minutes to start the fourth quarter to nearly erase an eight-point deficit.

Ford sank a pair of jumpers and made an acrobatic lefthanded layup during the run. His jumper with 2:52 remaining capped it, giving the Raptors an 84-72 cushion.

"I just felt it was time to start making some plays (in the fourth quarter)," Ford said. "They were giving me the same shots that I was making, and they were giving it to me all night long. I caught a nice little rhythm and started making shots."

Morris Peterson scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter for the Raptors, who learned earlier Friday that star forward Chris Bosh would be sidelined indefinitely with a left knee injury.

"If you look at a lot of our games, we start off slow and then we try to catch up," Peterson said. "By the time we get back into the game, we've expended all our energy, and then down the stretch, that's where we've been getting beat. Tonight, it was vice-versa. We got off to a great start and, toward the end, those guys ran out of gas."

The Nets also were shorthanded as athletic forward Richard Jefferson sat out with a sore right ankle.

Rasho Nesterovic scored a season-high 12 points and Jorge Garbajosa 10 for Toronto, which shot 45 percent (37-of-83) from the field.

Garbajosa scored seven points in the first quarter, when the Raptors used a 20-4 run to close the period with a 24-14 lead. Toronto maintained its advantage with a 17-7 burst to close the second quarter for a 45-35 bulge at the break.

Rookie Hassan Adams scored 13 points and Nenad Krstic had 11 and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who shot 39 percent (30-of-77) and made just 3-of-18 attempts from the arc.

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