Carter struggles, but beats former team in playoff openerApr 21, 2007 - 9:49 PM TORONTO (Ticker) -- Vince Carter had another wretched shooting day at the Air Canada Centre. But the high-flying All-Star still did enough in the fourth quarter to beat his former team.
Hearing the jeers from a sellout crowd each time he touched the ball, Carter made just 5-of-19 shots, but scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as the New Jersey Nets held on for a 96-91 victory over the Toronto Raptors in the opener of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
In New Jersey's two regular-season losses here, Carter made just 9-of-32 shots from the field and scored a total of 29 points.
"The important thing for us today was to get a great team effort and that's what we got," said Carter, who played for the Raptors from 1998-2004. "In the playoffs, you need everybody. You need guys to step up and do their jobs when needed."
In the first three quarters, Carter converted just 3-of-12 shots. But the Nets still managed to build a 15-point lead.
Richard Jefferson did most of the damage for the sixth-seeded Nets, scoring 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting. Most of Jefferson's points came in transition off passes by Jason Kidd, who had 15 assists and 10 rebounds.
"A lot of it was on the fast break," Jefferson said. "It's easy when you have a point guard like Jason Kidd. He was just pushing the ball and today I was the recipient of a lot of those passes."
But in the fourth quarter, Carter and Bostjan Nachbar made all the big plays for the Nets, who nearly collapsed.
New Jersey appeared to be in control with an 80-67 lead after a driving basket by Carter with 9:40 left in the fourth quarter.
But the Raptors went on a 15-3 run over the next 5 1/2 minutes. Anthony Parker and Jose Calderson ignited it with 3-pointers and Calderon capped it with a driving basket, pulling the Raptors within 83-82 with 4:10 remaining.
But after two misses by Carter made him 4-of-18 from the field, Calderon committed a turnover, throwing the ball out of bounds near the right sideline.
"We had opportunities, we just made mistakes at the wrong time," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "We made a lot of mental mistakes. Maybe it had to do with it being our first playoff game."
Jefferson and Toronto's Chris Bosh each split free throws on the next two possessions before Nachbar gave the Nets some breathing room with a 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:42 left.
Parker, who finished with 16 points, hit the side of the backboard on a corner jumper on Toronto's next possession and then fouled Carter, who made 1-of-2 free throws with 1:59 left.
Nachbar, who finished with a playoff career high of 16 points, added two free throws with 1:49 remaining to increase the lead to 90-83.
"We stayed calm and controlled the game, responded to their runs and played the way we wanted, which is encouraging," Nachbar said. "I think I did my job well which is to go out there and be aggressive."
After Bosh made a pair of free throws eight seconds later, Carter hit a driving basket to give New Jersey a 92-85 advantage with 1:21 left.
Toronto pulled within 94-91 on a 3-pointer by Parker with 12.9 seconds remaining, but Carter virtually sealed the win for the Nets when he split a pair of free throws with 11.8 seconds left.
Bosh led the Raptors with 22 points and T.J. Ford added 21. However, Toronto coach Sam Mitchell used Calderon at point guard for most of the fouth quarter instead of Ford.
Game Two is here on Tuesday night.
"We do have to win Tuesday, but I don't think the whole season rests on it," Bosh said. "It's a seven-game series and we have to take it one at a time. We're going to have to do a better job and play more like we did in the regular season."
The Raptors won 47 games during the regular season and captured their first division title. But this was their first playoff trip since 2002, when Carter was on the team but was not on the postseason roster due to injury.
"Hopefully, we can learn from this game," said Ford, who has playoff experience as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. "We have a lot of guys who haven't had playoff experience so now hopefully they see how focused and locked in you need to be the whole game with intensity on every play."
Ford used his quickness to get around Kidd at will and scored his 21 points in just 27 minutes on 8-of-13 shooting. But he was a spectator down the stretch as Calderon ran the offense. Calderon had 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting and added eight assists.
Kidd, who finished the regular season with 12 triple-doubles to raise his career total to 87, made just 3-of-11 shots and finished with eight points. But he controlled the game with his passing and rebounding.
"Our game plan was to get out there and execute and see if we could put pressure on them with the fast break, if we could get numbers," Kidd said. "When we do that we are a really dangerous team."
Toronto was hurt when the 6-10 Bosh picked up two fouls by the midway point of the first quarter. By the time he returned with 6:18 left in the second quarter, the Nets built a 42-32 lead.
The Raptors missed their first seven shots from 3-point range before Juan Dixon connected with 3:15 left in the first half, pulling them within 44-41.
Mitchell rested Bosh for the remainder of the half and the Nets took advantage, scoring the last seven points, including a dunk by Jefferson off a pass by Kidd with 1:06 left.
"We tried to get him out and when we did get him out it was a three-point game," Mitchell said. "It ends up in two minutes a 10-point game."
NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
NEW JERSEY 23 28 27 18 96
TORONTO 22 19 24 26 91 FINAL
HIGH SCORERS: NJN - RICHARD JEFFERSON 28, VINCE CARTER 16,
BOSTJAN NACHBAR 16
TOR - CHRIS BOSH 22, T.J. FORD 21, ANTHONY
Apr 21 3:04 PM
NEW JERSEY 78
TORONTO 65 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 21 2:19 PM
NEW JERSEY 51
TORONTO 41 HALFTIME
Apr 21 1:32 PM
NEW JERSEY 23
TORONTO 22 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 21 12:59 PM
- Cavaliers-Raptors Preview May 23
- Cavaliers-Raptors Preview May 23
- Physical intensity picks up between Cavaliers and Raptors May 23
- Cavs' Jones suspended; Raptors coach Casey fined May 23
- Weekend Sports in Brief May 23
- Jones suspended, Casey fined by NBA for Game 3 actions May 22
- DeRozan, Raptors end Cavaliers' streak with 99-84 win May 22
- Raptors need Lowry to step up in Game 3 against Cavaliers May 20
- Perfect 10: Cavs stay unbeaten in postseason, down Raptors May 20
- James' triple-double powers Cavs to rout of Raptors May 20
- Raptors C Valanciunas out for Game 2 versus Cavaliers May 19
- Snoop Dogg, ex-NBA player Peterson host game to help Flint May 19