Two plays that won't show up on any Vince Carter highlight reels ruined his otherwise impressive night.
A foolish technical foul and an unfavorable encounter with a rookie offset a 39-point outing by Carter as the Toronto Raptors lost for the fifth time in six games, 107-103, to the New Jersey Nets on Thursday night at East Rutherford, N.J.
Carter picked up a technical for halfheartedly throwing the ball at Scott Burrell after a hard foul with 3:31 left, then had his shot blocked by rookie Evan Eschmeyer with 35 seconds left.
The two plays were keys for the Nets, who kept their slim postseason hopes alive and pulled within 4 1/2 games of idle Orlando for the final playoff spot in the East.
The technical foul sapped much of the momentum from the Raptors after they had come back from a 21-point, third-quarter deficit.
Toronto had another chance with the score 102-98 with under 50 seconds left, but Eschmeyer blocked Carter's shot. The ball went out of bounds off Toronto, Stephon Marbury sank a foul shot and the outcome was all but assured.
Keith Van Horn led the Nets with 32 points.
Minnesota 122, Houston 90--Kevin Garnett scored 25 points and Terrell Brandon added 21 as the Timberwolves shot 60% from the field (52 of 87) in a victory at Minneapolis.
It was the eighth consecutive road loss for Houston, which shot only 37% (26 of 70).
Portland 96, Dallas 85--Rasheed Wallace scored a season-high 34 points as the Trail Blazers ended a four-game home losing streak.
Dallas' loss clinched a playoff spot for the idle Sacramento Kings.
Miami 105, Chicago 80--Tim Hardaway had 16 points and eight assists as the Heat clinched a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive year with a victory at Miami.
The victory, helped by 62.2% first-half shooting (23 of 37), avenged two earlier embarrassing defeats to the lowly Bulls.
Phoenix 118, Atlanta 74--Rodney Rogers scored 21 points as the Suns dealt the Hawks a record-tying defeat at Atlanta.
The 44-point margin of defeat at home tied a record set when the Hawks lost to the Lakers, 134-90, in 1972.
San Antonio 102, Golden State 90--Tim Duncan had 19 points, 17 rebounds and six blocked shots and David Robinson scored 27 points at San Antonio in the Spurs' fifth consecutive victory.
Around the League
Point guard Kevin Johnson was still not in uniform for the Suns' game against the Hawks because of a mild groin injury suffered in practice the day before. Johnson is listed as day-to-day as he tries to return to the NBA after a two-year absence. . . . The NBA is trying to ban androstenedione, the testosterone-boosting supplement made famous by baseball slugger Mark McGwire, but the players' association has filed a grievance to block the move. Other substances added to the banned list were dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), fluoxymesterone, methyltestosterone, nandrolone, oxandrolone, oxymetholone, stanozolol and testosterone. The union's grievance also challenges the addition of DHEA to the list.