Carter's recent play getting attention

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

Sorry, Vince.

Your wish to spend some down time at home in Florida during the all-star break will not be granted.

New Jersey Nets star Vince Carter, just over a year removed from quitting on the Raptors, raised eyebrows recently when he said he wouldn't mind returning home for the all-star break if he is not selected. But even though the fans look like they will not vote him in -- think his popularity in Canada has gone down a touch? -- Carter's recent play makes him a virtual all-star lock.

Carter has averaged 32.6 points during the Nets' nine-game winning streak, which his team will put on the line this afternoon against the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. Carter had just two 30-plus points games this season before this streak started.

"Everybody kind of has their chests poked out now," Carter told the Bergen Record recently. "That's what we want. We want to feel like we can compete with anybody, whether it's the best or worst teams."

Before this streak started, things were far from well in the Swamp. There were even some wild rumours that the Nets might try to trade Carter. While that wasn't close to being becoming reality, when Carter was asked how worried he was about being dealt when times were rough, he said, "You never know."

The Nets seem to have an adopted an us-against-the-world mentality as they attempt to match their franchise-best 14-game winning streak.

"Right now, we're just worried about what we do, not what people say," Carter said. "Everybody, just a week ago, you guys included, just really counted us out and had things to say. Now that we're playing well, we'll just keep it the way we've been keeping it, just worry about Nets basketball, worry about what we do, not worry about who we play. Our focus is on the game night in and night out and it's working."

Now comes the hard part, however. The Nets play 10 of their next 12 on the road. Today marks the beginning of a four-game road swing. The Nets had six days off before their most recent game Friday to prepare for the gruelling stretch.

"January is a crazy month," Richard Jefferson said. "Maybe the NBA decided to be nice to us and give us a few days off before we embark on this journey of 40 road games."


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