EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Nets' sleeping giant is awake.
Oh, and that guy with the bad knee? Never mind. He had a triple-double with 17 minutes still to go in the game. How hurt can he be?
The real hurt last nightwas put on the Raptors, who came out embarrassingly flat and paid the price with a 19-point halftime deficit they never fully overcame on their way to an 102-89 loss.
Between them the no-longer-slumbering giant ‹ Vince Carter ‹ and Jason Kidd, with the supposed knee problem, were more than enough for the hometown Nets, who now own a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final.
Back on his home court and far removed from the heckling he endured for two games in Toronto, Carter came out of hibernation with his claws up and at full growl, attacking the Raptors basket as if it were prey and he hadn't eaten in weeks.
He opened the scoring with a short-range jumper and from that point on he was in full attack mode. There was no settling for the outside shot, as Raptors fans in Toronto mocked him for through the first two games. He drove, and drove again, helping the Nets get up by as much as 14 points midway through that first quarter.
When Carter came out of the game with 3:14 to go in the first quarter, the Nets had a 13-point lead. When he returned for the final possession of the quarter, the Raps had been able to cut it by only one.
If it were just Carter, the Raptors might have been able to stay in this one. But his renewed aggression seemed to be contagious with the Nets. Kidd, who sustained a strained left knee in Game 2 showed no signs of any problem distributing the ball with his normal aplomb and mimicked Carter's drives for some easy buckets of his own.
It was all so easy because the Raptors really didn't start playing any defence until the second half.
Kidd wound up with 16 points, 16 rebounds and 19 assists giving him his 10th triple double in his playoff career, tied for second all-time with Larry Bird.
The Raptors did manage to get the lead down to nine points just before the end of the third quarter, but never got as close again.
On offence, the Raps treated the paint as if it was a restricted area, rarely venturing anywhere near for about the first six minutes of the game and settling for outside shots, few of which found the mark.
The Nets, on the other hand, were driving to the hoop at will, led by Carter, but with plenty of support from Kidd, and Richard Jefferson.
In addition to Carter's game-high 37 points, the Nets got 18 from Jefferson and nine off the bench from the unheralded Bostjan Nachbar.
T.J. Ford lead all Toronto scorers with 27, along with eight assists.
Carter's job, and that of every other driving New Jersey Net, was made a little easier when Chris Bosh picked up an early foul. That made him slightly more tentative when he left his man to help out on Carter, who was driving the lane just about every time he got the ball. Bosh was held to just 11 points.
Carter finished the first quarter with 13 points. The Nets shot 61% from the field to the Raptors 33% in the frame to pull away. The Nets scored 24 of their first-quarter points in the paint to the Raps eight.