Vince back with a bang

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Vince Carter was greeted last night with a non-stop chorus of boos and jeers and, even better for him, a Raptors defence that fell apart like a cheap compact. With the New Jersey Nets fighting for their playoff lives, Carter turned up the heat in the third quarter, scoring 17 points, to lead his team to a 101-90 victory over the Raptors before a sold-out Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,800.

The most vilified man in Toronto put forth an effort rarely seen during his final days with the Raptors, scoring 39 points in total and adding nine rebounds and four assists.

Once fondly known in these parts as Vinsanity, Carter rubbed salt on the wounds of his former fans by nailing four consecutive free throws in the final two minutes.

Jason Kidd hit a three-pointer with just more than 20 seconds remaining to seal the deal for the 39-40 Nets, who trailed by 14 at the half.

"When they go home, they'll have something to think about," Carter said, when asked about the fan reaction.

"I understand the situation and it was fine with me. I'm happy with the way things have turned out.

"It was just another experience I can add to my history book."

The booing began when the Nets jogged on to the court for the pregame warmup and continued each time Carter touched the ball. The normally reserved ACC crowd rained abuse down on Carter -- traded from Toronto on Dec.17 -- at every opportunity before, during and after the game. Carter, making his first visit to Toronto since the swap, had to be escorted off the court after the game by a team of security guards and at least one Toronto cop. Someone even threw something his way, but missed.

Signs waved throughout the ACC demonstrated the sentiments of the crowd.

"Air Canada? More like Jetsgo," read one.

Another said: "Half Man, Half Effort."

Yet another had pictures of Toronto sports heroes Pinball Clemons, Joe Carter, Wendel Clark and Carter, with the caption: "Three Men and a Baby. Waa"

They even booed a message flashed on the scoreboard warning that disruptive behavior in the stands could lead to ejection or arrest.

The negative vibes appeared to get to Carter early, as he started the game hitting just one of his first five shots.

But he began to heat up as the quarter continued, nailing two shots in a row, including a three-pointer in the final seconds.

Carter insisted that the negativity inside the arena never got to him.

"You heard it when we came out on the court, before the game and at halftime," he said. "But during the game, I blocked it out. It was fun. This was a fun game, believe it or not."

To his credit, Carter demonstrated much more staying power than many of the spectators, whose efforts to throw him off cooled off in the later stages of the game.

Carter took full advantage of the Raptors' feeble attempts to guard him. Jalen Rose did a decent job early in the game, but he and his mates faded in the defensive department in the second half.

Rose scored 20 points for the Raptors (32-47) while Morris Peterson added 15. Kidd finished with a double-double -- 15 points and 12 boards -- for the Nets.

One of the keys to New Jersey's comeback was its work on the boards. In the end, the Nets outrebounded Toronto 45-32 and outscored the Raptors in the paint, 40-30.


Videos

Photos