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Bargnani makes NBA debut as Raptors visit Nets

Nov 1, 2006 - 3:38 PM Toronto (27-55) at New Jersey (49-33) 7:30 pm EST

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Nets begin the 2006-07 season knowing they may have only one more legitimate shot at postseason glory, while the Toronto Raptors begin play under a new regime that features talented European players.

The Nets host the Raptors and top overall pick Andrea Bargnani on Wednesday in the season opener for both teams.

New Jersey has a heightened sense of urgency due to star guard Vince Carter, who can opt out of his contract after this season. The former Raptor averaged a team-best 24.2 points in 2005-06, but there are rumors that he may prefer to play in Orlando once his deal expires.

The Nets captured their fourth Atlantic Division crown in five seasons, but were knocked out of the playoffs by the Miami Heat for the second year in a row.

Carter, Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson lead a starting lineup that includes improving center Nenad Krstic and forward Jason Collins. New Jersey added to its bench by drafting Marcus Williams and Josh Boone out of the University of Connecticut and signing veteran guard Eddie House.

New Jersey will take on a Toronto team that was reconfigured by second-year general manager Bryan Colangelo, who added European talent led by Bargnani.

The 6-10 Italian forward became the first European to be drafted first overall and will be joined on the club by international players Jorge Garbajosa and Uros Slokar, along with second-year Spanish guard Jose Calderon. Also joining Toronto will be Anthony Parker, a two-time Euroleague MVP, and point guard T.J. Ford, who was acquired in a trade with Milwaukee.

This new cast will surround All-Star forward Chris Bosh, who averaged career highs of 22.5 points and 9.2 rebounds last season.

The Raptors went an NBA-best 6-1 in the preseason, while the Nets finished at 3-5.

New Jersey won three of four meetings against Toronto last season.

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