Raptors turn up intensity

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

The Raptors had a lot of nervous energy to burn off yesterday and for once they didn't fry themselves.

With Vince Carter leaving on a New Jersey Nets plane last night, and at least two new players officially wearing purple today, this game was about trying to establish themselves in coach Sam Mitchell's new order.

The Raptors shot a season-high 53% and were a whopping 14-for-23 on three-pointers wearing out the New Jersey Nets 110-99 at the Air Canada Centre.

There was a new urgency to the play of the bench, which contributed 54 points to Jersey's 28, led by Lamond Murray's 18, his best since arriving here in 2002.

But starter Morris Peterson's season-high 20, including a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer and another to open up a fat third-quarter lead, served notice that no jobs will be surrendered easily to Aaron Williams and Eric Williams.

"The trade definitely helps our perimeter guys, and now I'm starting, too," said Peterson, sporting a bandage on his forehead from bashing temples with teammate Chris Bosh early in the game. "That's one thing I wanted to do, because I felt I could be a starter in this league and now I want to make the most of the opportunity."

Peterson laughed when it was pointed out the reconfigured Raptors locker room has seen him shift two places to his left to Carter's former stall, the site of so much turmoil the past six years.

"When people thought of the Raptors they thought of Vince," Peterson said. "Now it's up to other guys to step up and show what they can do, to show that leadership. I've (become) the longest playing Raptor now, I have to step up, show guys the ropes and hopefully we make a playoff run."

That remains a long shot with the club still a win shy of 10 in the week before Christmas. The Nets, who travel to Charlotte with Carter in tow, are hoping his arrival means better things than their current record of 7-16.

"I can't wait for the first time Jason Kidd throws the ball up and Richard (Jefferson) and Vince are fighting in the air to see who dunks it first, centre Jason Collins said. "There were mixed emotions with this deal. We've lost good friends and good teammates, but we're gaining one of the best players in the league."

Mitchell saw his club break 100 points and win for only the second time in its past 10 games. How he attempts to duplicate that chemistry tonight in Houston with the new blood coming in is a good question.

"I'll think about it on the plane," he said with a smile.

Murray said that having seven Raptors in double figures yesterday is another example of what this team is capable of when it has its collective head together -- on and off the court

"My jump shot has been off for awhile, but I just wasn't getting the looks or the minutes," he said. "The trade has nothing to with that, but Mo Pete is starting now and Jalen (Rose) is stepping up."

Having just buried the Carter distraction, Bosh didn't want to get caught up in a new kerfuffle about Mitchell's lineup.

"Whatever happens, it's the coaches job to decide where guys should fit in," he said.


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