Vince in overdrive

Vince Carter enjoys a chuckle in East Rutherford, New Jersey as the Raptors lose game 3 against the...

Vince Carter enjoys a chuckle in East Rutherford, New Jersey as the Raptors lose game 3 against the Nets. (Stan Behal/SUN)

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

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.

The real hurt last night was 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, who had 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 series.

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 bared, attacking the Raptors basket relentlessly. He finished the night with 37 points on 15-of-23 shooting.

Carter 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 like the Raptor 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 midway through that first quarter.

After the game, Carter claimed he did nothing different from the first two games in Toronto. The only difference, he said, was that this time the shots fell.

He was in a much more talkative mood when it came to discussing Kidd's performance -- a 16 points 16 rebounds and 19 assists.

"I don't know if he is healthy or not, but he definitely did something special for us tonight," Carter said. "He played phenomenal on both ends. His ability to find guys, make plays, rebound is unbelievable. I'm just glad he was able to play tonight. I'm sure he'll probably be sore (today) and he probably won't walk right, but that's okay."

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell questioned whether Kidd's knee was even hurt.

"I thought Jason Kidd, with the so-called injury he had, he was just unbelievable," Mitchell said. "He just dominated the basketball game. As good as Vince was, Jason Kidd facilitated everything. Rebounding, assists, making big shots."

Not that he tried, but Mitchell would have been hard-pressed to come up with even one member of his own team he could say that about.

"For the most part, I would just say we were bad," he said.

While the Nets were scoring almost at will in that first half, the Raptors were unable to penetrate the Nets defence, much the way they were frustrated in their Game 1 loss.

In fact, there were many similarities to the first game of the series. The Nets' fast break was operating at peak efficiency with the Raptors slow to get back on defence. In the first half alone last night, the Nets had 16 fast-break points to the Raps' two. For the game it wound up 22-6.

The similarities weren't lost on Anthony Parker.

"When you get off to a start like that, it's an uphill battle for the rest of the game, especially on the road," Parker said. "We can't afford to play like that. It was kind of like the first game all over again, expect this time Vince was hitting shots and got into a groove early."

With the Nets paying huge attention to Chris Bosh, the Raptors star became almost a non-factor in the game, settling for 11 points. T.J. Ford, who was almost ignored defensively, wound up with a team-high 27.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca

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REPORT CARD

C+ Offence: Raps did not share the ball at all. Jason Kidd recorded four more assists (19 overall) than the entire Raptors team (15). Turned the ball over 18 times.

C- Defence: The Raps allowed the Nets to shoot 53% from the field and were outscored 56-24 in the paint, despite being even in rebounds.


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