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Carter held without a field goal as Raptors trounce Nets

Dec 13, 2008 - 4:34 AM By Joe Rizzo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Three weeks ago, Vince Carter almost single-handedly beat the Toronto Raptors. He repaid them Friday.

Carter went 0-of-13 from the field and scored three points in perhaps the worst game of his career, and Chris Bosh scored 18 points as the Raptors won their second straight after a five-game losing streak, 101-79, over the New Jersey Nets on Friday.

On November 21 in Toronto, Carter's magic helped the Nets erase a seven-point deficit in the final minute and win in overtime. But he looked lost in this one and listless New Jersey followed his lead, shooting 31 percent (26-of-83) from the field.

The crowd cheered sarcastically with 8:21 left in the game as Carter hit two free throws for his first points of the game. By then, the game was well out of hand, with the Nets trailing, 80-59.

Carter had made at least one field goal in every career game in which he played at least 10 minutes. He went scoreless twice in his career, on November 26, 2000, and January 30, 2001, while playing for the Raptors, leaving both games early with injuries.

In an uncharacteristic move, Carter declined to speak with the media after the game.

"Unfortunately, you have nights like that," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "You never want to have them. It's not just him, we just couldn't buy a shot and unfortunately sometimes those things are contagious."

Bosh was more proud to spearhead the effort to keep down Carter than he was to score.

"He's a scorer and you do something like that, it's a credit to the defense," Bosh said. "He's very talented and he's hard to stop. But we tried to limit his points in the paint, we tried to put bodies on him all the time. We wanted to make him beat one guy and then meet somebody else and then probably somebody else after that.

"He's one of those players, he gets it going and there's nothing much you can do. You have to be aggressive with him early and just show him a lot of bodies and hope he settles for jump shots."

Toronto entered the season hoping to push Boston for the division but dropped five straight following an 8-7 start. Behind Bosh and Jason Kapono, who had 16 points, the Raptors played more like contenders against the Nets.

Raptors coach Jay Triano improved to 2-3 since taking over for the fired Sam Mitchell. His system is beginning to take hold, as the defense held high-scoring New Jersey to a season low in points.

"We're getting to where we want to be," said Triano, who has implemented team film sessions. "We really have to clean up our rebounding. The job isn't done on defense until we have rebounded the ball."

Raptors point guard Jose Calderon, on his way to 13 points, was 3-for-3 from the foul line to set a new NBA record with 55 straight free throws made to start a season. Phoenix's Steve Nash held the previous record of 53.

Devin Harris scored 14 points for the Nets, who have lost consecutive home games within the division after a 9-3 run and fell to 4-7 at the Izod Center.

"(Carter) had a tough night," Harris said. "Would he rather not have it against this team? Probably. I know he probably takes it a little bit harder being against his former team, but we're all going to have those nights."

With 4:06 left in the second quarter, Bosh drove the lane for a left-handed dunk that closed the deficit to 34-32 and kicked off a jamfest that closed the quarter. Bosh hit a turnaround 16-footer to tie it for the final time, and Jamario Moon converted a layup off his own steal and a breakaway dunk off a fast-break feed from Bosh.

Joey Graham capped the run with a powerful dunk driving through traffic, giving Toronto a 40-34 halftime lead. Graham finished with 16 points.

The Raptors allowed New Jersey to close within three early in the third quarter, but Calderon ignited a 12-0 run with a 3-pointer to extend the advantage.

Jermaine O'Neal converted a three-point play, Graham knocked down two free throws and Kapono hit from long range.

"These guys are unselfish and everyone knows how to set screens and play," Kapono said. "Playing with big guys and point guards that are willing to fight to set screens and know when to pass - it's a good program. It keeps the defense on their toes."

Calderon's free throw with 6:35 left capped the run and gave Toronto a 57-42 lead. The Raptors extended it to 71-53 by the end of the quarter and cruised through the fourth as most of the starters watched from the bench.

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