Vince: 'I live for these times'

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Thanks to Vince Carter, the Raptors were able to blaze a new trail against the Portland Trail Blazers yesterday.

Carter hit a three-point fadeaway jump shot with 4.8 seconds remaining to lift Toronto to a dramatic 101-97 victory over Portland at the Air Canada Centre, enabling the Raptors to begin the regular season at 3-0 for the first time in franchise history.

Unfortunately, only 13,863 fans were on hand to witness it -- the smallest home crownd in franchise history.

"Only a few guys can make that shot, and he is one of them," said Zach Randolph, who had a huge day for Portland with 33 points and 15 rebounds, as well as four assists.

Carter led the Raptors with a team season-high 25 points, nine of those coming in the fourth quarter. He also had four assists and three rebounds. His game-winning 24-footer broke a 95-95 tie.

"I dream about these times and I live for these times," Carter said of his clutch shot, which sent the crowd into a frenzy. "I enjoy the opportunity. Some guys like it, some guys don't. It's a great situation when you can win it for your team."

Carter's game was big yesterday, but another key in the victory for the Raptors was the play of the bench for the second game in row. The Raps' second unit dominated Detroit's on Friday and did a number on Portland's yesterday, out-scoring the visitor's bench, 40-21.

Donyell Marshall, who was shut out against the Pistons on Friday, stepped up huge for Toronto in place of starting centre Loren Woods, scoring 16 and added nine rebounds. Woods played 15 minutes and picked up zero points and four rebounds. When head coach Sam Mitchell put his starters back on the court near the end of the game, he left Marshall in for Woods.

Forward Jalen Rose and Rafer Alston also had 16, while Alston, the starting point, contributed eight assists. Starting power forward Chris Bosh struggled, scoring only four with five boards in 32 minutes. Bosh and Woods were a combined 1-for-12 from the field.

"Our bench outscoring their's by 19 points was huge," Mitchell said. "We had no answer for Zach Randolph, but probably 29 other teams have no answer for him, either.

"Chris, Vince, Jalen, they're not going to play great every night. It's just not humanly impossible," Mitchell added. "That's why we have 12 guys and that's why in the preseason we played those guys, so they can get used to playing."

Former Raptor Damon Stoudamire picked up a double-double for the Trail Blazers, with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Milt Palacio had a strong game at the point off the bench for Toronto, with nine points and three assists.

The Raps embark on a six-game west coast swing, beginning in Sacramento tomorrow.


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