TORONTO, Nov. 25 (Ticker)
-- Right from the start, Vince Carter
and the Toronto Raptors made the statement that perhaps they might rule
the Eastern Conference this season.
Keon Clark launches a shot over Derrick Coleman for two of his 12 points.
Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images
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The Raptors scored the game's first 11 points and never trailed as Carter collected 30 points, including three highlight-reel
alley-oop dunks, in handing the Philadelphia 76ers their first
loss of the season with Allen Iverson
in the lineup, 107-88.
In a rematch of last season's dramatic Eastern Conference
semifinal series -- won by Philadelphia in seven games when
Carter missed a shot that would have given Toronto the victory
-- the Raptors outplayed the 76ers from start to finish.
And Carter got a bit of personal redemption. Criticized for
attending his graduation at North Carolina on the day of Game
7, he highlighted the early 11-0 burst with a three-pointer.
"We're trying to be consistent. This is a win that we needed to
protect our home," said Carter. "The defensive effort helped us
and we realized that we can put in a 48-minute effort. It was a
big win because we lost the last two at home."
In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Carter took feeds
from Dell Curry and Alvin Williams to throw down thunderous
dunks that enthused the crowd at the Air Canada Centre while
demoralizing the visitors.
"When we establish ourselves early and run a lot, we can start
to try things like that (alley-oops)," Carter aded. "You can
catch them sleeping."
Curry also scored 18 points and Keon Clark had a strong game off
the bench with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who
avoided their third straight home loss while winning their
second straight overall.
"We worked really hard on defense," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens
said. "We had great weak-side help and we played good team
defense. This allowed us to get the ball out and run the floor.
We had a lot of people get open today and we did a lot of things
The 76ers were led by Aaron McKie, who had 23 points. Reigning
league MVP Iverson finished with just 18 on 7-of-24 shooting.
"They played great. We started terrible, but we got back in the
game," 76ers coach Larrry Brown said. "We gave up too many easy
shots and second shots. In the second half, we couldn't make a
Philadelphia allowed 100 points for the first time this season.
"They had 90 points with seven minutes to go," Brown added. "We
haven't given up that many all year. They are a terrific team,
well-coached with a superstar (Carter) who is unselfish."
Iverson missed the season's first five games because of a
nagging elbow injury and Philadelphia went 0-5. However, until
Sunday, the 76ers had been perfect with their star on the floor,
reeling off seven consecutive victories.
"They played a great overall game," said Iverson. "Something
unusual happened tonight, we got outhustled. They beat us to a
lot of loose balls. They started off well against us."
Toronto's Antonio Davis opened the game by drilling a jumper
from the sideline and Hakeem Olajuwon, who had seven blocks,
scored in the lane. Davis hit another jumper and Carter's
3-pointer made it 9-0.
Carter followed by feeding Morris Peterson for a hoop with just
over eight minutes left in the opening quarter.
The 76ers fought within two points on several occasions during
the later stages of the first quarter but never tied it and
trailed, 25-21, entering the second. That was as close as they
would be the rest of the afternoon.
After a basket by Dikembe Mutombo cut the deficit to 31-25,
consecutive scores by Peterson, Clark and Carter doubled the
advantage and essentially put away the contest for Toronto.
"We played our game and didn't worry about what Iverson was
going to do," said Clark. "I try to do whatever I can on both
ends to help the team win."
Peterson finished with 14 points and Davis added 10 while
grabbing 10 rebounds for Toronto, which connected on 49.5
percent (46-of-93) of its shots and led by as much as 20 at one
Mutombo had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who shot
just 39 percent (32-of-83).