TORONTO, Oct. 25 (AP)
-- Vince Carter
seemed to remember that Michael Jordan
recently criticized his defensive abilities. When they were matched face-to-face twice Thursday night, Carter seemed eager to prove Jordan wrong.
Carter scored 18 of his 31 points in the first quarter and played defense on Jordan as though the game actually meant something as the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards 113-96 in an exhibition game.
Vince Carter glides to the hoop while Michael Jordan looks on.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE Photos
It was the first time the two had ever played each other in a game.
"His intensity was high, as it should be,'' Jordan said. "I wouldn't expect him to just go through the motions.''
Jordan scored 22 points but did not have his jump shot working well. He made three of his first four shots but missed 11 of his final 13, scoring the majority of his points by going 12-for-12 from the line.
Carter shot 10-for-23 with four 3-pointers, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks, while Jordan shot 5-for-17 with three rebounds and four assists. Two of his shots were airballs.
Carter had insisted in the days leading up to this game that it was no big deal. His body language, however, spoke otherwise -- especially on the two occasions when he found himself guarding Jordan one-on-one.
The first time, Carter went chest to chest with Jordan just inside the 3-point line, forcing Jordan to fire up an airball.
The next time, Carter's defense was equally tight until Jordan sneaked behind him for a backdoor move and got off a layup -- only to have it swatted away by Hakeem Olajuwon.
During his recent retirement, Jordan was quoted as saying Kobe Bryant is a better player than Carter because of his defense.
"I put that out there as a challenge when I first said it, and he's shown that he'll continue to improve on that end,'' Jordan said. "As a fan and as a North Carolina player, I want to see him improve on that end.''
The two rarely made eye contact and barely acknowledged each other as the game wore on, with Jordan showing almost no emotion and Carter being only a little more animated. They did not speak.
"No, not a word,'' Carter said.
After the final buzzer, Jordan walked downcourt and gave Carter a friendly pat that Carter reciprocated by wrapping an arm around Jordan's shoulder.
"He still has it. Though he can't jump and dunk over people like he used to, he still draws fouls and he still can shoot it,'' Carter said.
Jordan made three of his first four shots -- all jumpers -- before Carter heated up and dropped in 15 points in a span of 4:03. Included in that run was one play where Carter head-faked Jordan off his feet under the basket and scored easily.
Carter also had a two-handed dunk that he turned into a three-point play and a 50-foot bounce pass leading to a fast break layup by Carlos Arroyo. He then stole the ball from Jordan and made a 3-pointer for the last of his 18 first-quarter points.
Carter had 26 at halftime (to Jordan's 14) and 31 after three quarters before leaving the game for good 90 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Jordan checked in for the final time with 7:15 remaining and Washington trailing 93-85, and the Raptors were ahead by 14 by the time Jordan left with 2:59 remaining.
Antonio Davis added 20 points for Toronto, Alvin Williams had 17 and Olajuwon grabbed 15 rebounds.
Courtney Alexander had 20 points and Chris Whitney 12 for Washington, which has lost five of its seven exhibition games.
"Tonight was a demonstration of where they are and where we are,'' Jordan said. "We don't want to play like this all season long.''