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Carter Has Uplifting Experience for Raptors

April 27, 2001|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Toronto's Vince Carter finally showed some spunk, and Raptor Coach Lenny Wilkens showed he's not too old to come up with something creative.

Carter became a successful playoff performer for the first time Thursday night, turning from a timid player into a tough one as the Toronto Raptors routed the New York Knicks, 94-74, to even the first-round NBA playoff series at one game apiece. The best-of-five series resumes Sunday in Toronto.

"This is big for us: our first playoff win as a franchise and my first playoff win," Carter said, "so I hope this was a confidence builder."

Carter, coming off a poor performance in Game 1 that dropped his career postseason record--and the Raptors'--to 0-4, went on an offensive tear in the second half to help turn it into a rout.

Carter scored 22 points--16 in the second half--and got the better of Latrell Sprewell several times when they were matched one-on-one.

"I went up to him afterward and told him to remember this feeling," teammate Antonio Davis said. "Now, at least, he knows."

Wilkens threw a different look at the Knicks, moving Chris Childs into the starting lineup, sliding Alvin Williams over to shooting guard and limiting rookie Morris Peterson to seven minutes in a reserve role.

Williams tied his career high with 23 points and Childs--a former Knick--had seven assists before leaving with a pulled hamstring late in the third as the Raptors were on a 31-15 run that allowed them to pull away.

Wilkens also used power forward Jerome Williams at times to defend Sprewell and Houston. Sprewell made only three of 12 shots and Houston five of 11.

"I'm not afraid to try anything," said Wilkens, 63, the winningest coach in NBA history. "The players were receptive and we had plenty of time to work on this."

Carter was at his best during the second-half run. On one drive into the lane he looked as if he was about to pass after leaving his feet looking at Alvin Williams, but instead turned and knocked down a running 14-footer for a 65-52 lead.

Carter blocked a shot by Othella Harrington on New York's next possession, then stepped back and stroked a 23-foot jumper early in the fourth to make it 68-52.

Carter followed that by blowing past Sprewell on consecutive drives. He made 10 of 22 shots after making only five of 22 attempts in Game 1.

Kurt Thomas led the Knicks with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Camby, playing three days after his mother and two sisters were held hostage at their home in Connecticut, was clearly not himself and had only two points and two rebounds in 31 minutes.

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