Carter has value

Mike Koreen -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

Contrary to popular belief, the Raptors are not better off without Vince Carter. When Carter is out of the lineup, the Raptors have lost 23 consecutive games, including a 106-98 loss against the Miami Heat yesterday at the Air Canada Centre.

Heat coach Stan Van Gundy had an interesting answer when asked if Carter's absence -- he's on the injured list with a strained left Achilles tendon -- made a big difference in the game.

"Vince didn't do anything in that last game (a 94-92 win for the visiting Raptors against the Heat Nov. 30, he had five points," Van Gundy said. "But in general, yes, anytime you're without your best player, I don't want to downplay it, you miss having that guy in there. But it's not a difference from when we played them because he was no factor when we played them in Miami."

DOWN BUT NOT OUT

Raptors forward Chris Bosh revealed yesterday he had a bad case of food poisoning Dec. 1 in Orlando, but coach Sam Mitchell said he "made (Bosh) get out of his death bed" to play that night.

Still, Mitchell said Bosh hasn't been the same since then.

"Thank god I'm over that," Bosh said. "I played through it, I tried to. I didn't do as well, but it's just all about effort."

SHAQ'S BIG OFFER

NBA three-point leader Damon Jones of the Heat has extra incentive to win the all-star three-point competition in Denver in February, thanks to his teammate O'Neal.

"I told him if he wins, I'll give him $50,000 US of my own money," Shaq said. "It's there, it's free, I put it out there. If he wants it, he has to go get it. He brings me the trophy, I give the money."

BRIEFLY

Raptors point guard Rafer Alston notched his 1,000th career assist yesterday, but also committed a career-high eight turnovers ... The funniest moment of the day came when brilliant reporters did not ask a single question to Mitchell during his pre-game media session. The coach counted down from 10 and then politely left the room.


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