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Carter scores 32 as Nets upend Raptors

Jan 10, 2007 - 5:39 AM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Nets' trio of stars were too much for the Toronto Raptors.

Vince Carter scored 24 of his 32 points in the first half and Richard Jefferson took over in the third quarter as the Nets posted a 101-86 victory over the Raptors.

Jason Kidd had 10 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds for New Jersey (15-19), which took over first place in the Atlantic Division from Toronto with its fourth win in five games.

"Win or lose, we've been in every game since that Detroit game and we're starting to get a little bit more comfortable and understanding what it takes to win," Carter said.

Since leaving the Raptors during the 2004-05 season, Carter improved to 6-3 against his former team. The swingman, who shot 12-of-23 from the floor and added five rebounds and seven assists, has averaged 31.5 points in the wins and 16.3 points during the losses.

"I was just trying to be aggressive early and often, whatever that meant, getting to the basket, finding open guys and making shots to give ourselves confidence as a team," Carter said.

Jefferson scored 11 of his 21 points in the third quarter, including a three-point play off a dunk with 6:07 left that gave the Nets a 64-54 lead. Carter and Mikki Moore added six points during the period as New Jersey turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 74-65 lead.

Moore, starting in place of Nenad Krstic, who is out for the season with a knee injury, finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

"Mikki has been a big plus for us," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We'd love to have Krstic out there because he's so talented, but Mikki has been a very big positive for us because he brings energy. And no matter if he's outweighed or too short, he just comes to play and brings the energy."

New Jersey controlled the fourth quarter and put away the game with seven straight points on a 3-pointer by Kidd, a dunk by Jason Collins and a fast-break slam by Carter for a 96-81 lead with 2 1/2 minutes left.

Kidd, who filed a domestic violence complaint against his wife earlier Tuesday, made just 3-of-8 shots but committed just two turnovers despite playing with the distraction.

"There are no distractions," Kidd insisted. "This is my job, this is my livelihood, so anything personal, stays personal. Anything that's related to my job, stays within my job. I have a job to do and I try to go out there every night and do it.

"I've never tried to cross the two or bring the two together. My personal life is my personal life and my job is my job and that's the way I look at it.

Rookie Andrea Bargnani scored 22 points - one shy of his season high - and Jose Calderon scored 15 of his season-high 16 points in the first half for the Raptors, who had a modest two-game winning streak snapped. Both came off the bench.

"The bench, we can't ask anymore from them," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "We started the game off horrendous, they got us back and we got the lead. If we continue to get that kind of effort out of the bench, we'll be fine.

"There's not much to say to those other guys (the starters), they know. Normally I don't like to give stat sheets out after the game, but I've got to make sure all the guys who started get a stat sheet tonight. We can take it on the bus, put it under their pillow and sleep with it. The starters just didn't have it tonight.

Perhaps the biggest culprit was Chris Bosh, who averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds in his first three games back from a left knee injury. He finished with 12 points - one below his season low - on 3-of-9 shooting with six rebounds. He had just four points without a rebound in the first half.

"Between Twin (Collins) and Mikki they did a very credible job against one of the very talented four-men in the league," Frank said. "It was a very good individual team effort."

Starting point guard T.J Ford and center Rasho Nesterovic were scoreless. The Raptors' starting lineup scored just 29 points.

"Bosh just had an off night and for (Ford), we just try to make him take perimeter jump shots and if he makes them, we live that and if he doesn't we hope we can get out and run. You just try to make it tough on those guys and you tip your hat if they make shots and tonight they didn't."

Ford finished 0-for-8 from the floor.

The Nets scored the first 15 points of the game, but a 22-2 run sparked mostly by the bench gave the Raptors a 31-26 lead with 7:39 left in the half. Bargnani scored eight of his 16 first-half points during the spurt while Calderon added seven.

The Raptors countered Carter's first-half outburst with 40 points by their bench to forge a 48-47 lead at the half.

"When you're guarding guys who can score the basketball, you cannot let them get into a rhythm early," Mitchell said. "You've got to do your dirty work early. Last time I checked, Vince Carter averaged about 25 or 26 points a game. You can't let scorers get into the game early like that."

Nets forward Cliff Robinson suffered a mid-back strain in the first half and did not return.

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