Carter has an off-night ... and the fans love it

STEVE BUFFERY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 12:45 PM ET

The Air Canada Centre fans were given an early holiday present last night.

Not only did the Raptors defeat Atlantic Division rival New Jersey 90-78, the fans also witnessed Vince Carter's game go into the tank.

As a matter of fact, the 19,897 on hand may have had a hand in Carter's worse offensive output of the season.

As usual, every time the former Raptor touched the ball, a chorus of boos and jeers rained down from the stands.

SARCASTIC CROWD

Usually that doesn't bother Carter, who has played some big games against his former squad at the ACC. But last night, Carter just could not get it going, and when he left the court for the final time with a minute to go in the game, the crowd erupted loud cheers of sarcasm.

Toronto crowds have expressed disdain for Carter after he asked to be traded from the team in 2005.

As usual, Carter, who made five all-star teams during his six full years in Toronto, said the negative vibes did not bother him, though his stats seem to tell another story.

"I could care less (about the crowd)," Carter said. "I don't hear it. It's basketball. Everywhere you go, you hear something, you hear people yelling, but I don't get caught up in that. I've been playing ball too long for that to bother me.

"I hate when my family yells at me more. That bothers me. This is nothing."

Carter recorded a season-low 12 points, with Jorge Garbajosa and the rest of the Toronto team guarding him tenaciously. He shot a dismal 4-for-17 from the field and was 4-for-8 from the free throw line, 2-for-6 in the fourth quarter.

"More than anything I was disappointed in my free throw shooting," he said. "It's just one of those nights. I just couldn't get into a rhythm. "

Carter was on a huge roll heading into last night's game, scoring 36 and 37 points in his previous two games.

As usual, he smiled and kibitzed with various people courtside, including Toronto coach Sam Mitchell (Mitchell did not return the jocularity) at crucial parts of the game, a characteristic that used to drive his teammates and some fans to distraction in Toronto. New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank, though, insisted he doesn't have a problem with Carter's carefree attitude.

"I think Vince is very consistent with his approach," Frank said. "Vince has been great for us and it's not an easy situation coming back here. Vince has obviously played at a very high level and he just had a night where his shots weren't falling and over a course of an 82-game season, you're going to have nights like that."


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