ATLANTA, March 8 (Ticker) -- Vince Carter
scored a season-high 43
points and reserve Voshon Lenard
added 23 as the Toronto Raptors
continued their strong play against the Atlanta Hawks with a
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Carter shot 16-of-24 from the field, including 5-of-8 from
3-point range, and converted 6-of-8 free throws.
"It's a feeling that you get from seeing a guy, when he works
and plays and everything, he was outstanding," Toronto coach
Lenny Wilkens said. "He went to the hoop, got the in-between
shots, the outside shots, rebounded, defended, and that was
great for me."
"He was shooting from everywhere on the court - dunks, layups,
threes - he was just way too comfortable out there," Atlanta
guard Jason Terry
The high-flying Carter scored 15 points in the first quarter and
almost matched his previous season best by halftime with 26. He
totaled 27 points at Memphis on December 1.
"I just felt comfortable out there," said Carter, who also had a
career-high eight assists. "I was shooting each shot the same.
I was just in the groove, just finding my shots where I can
really be effective, whether it be shooting or delievering the
"I just play to be effective, I don't play to see how many
points I can score. My thing was, I was just going to attack
and be effective. I just wanted to set the tone for us
However, Carter pointed to an earlier game against the Boston
Celtics as his best effort of the season, despite notching the
11th 40-point game of his career and first since a 43-point
effort at Houston on March 5, 2002.
"Just because I scored a lot of points doesn't mean it was my
best game," he said. "I had a better game against Boston. I was
moving a lot more. Tonight was my night to score."
The Hawks also blamed themselves for Carter's output, which was
the most points by an opponent in the history of Phillips
"We kind of helped him get in rhythm," coach Terry Stotts said.
"I was more disappointed with giving him the easy shots. You
can't give him easy shots."
"When you give a guy like that so many easy layups in the
beginning, when he can get easy buckets with no pressure, we
made it a long night for ourselves," said Atlanta center Theo
, who scored a season-high 20 points.
The turning point in the tight matchup came with 3:56 left when
Carter slammed down an alley-oop dunk for a 94-91 advantage.
After Carter missed the
ensuing free throw, Atlanta's Glenn Robinson
appeared to grab
the rebound but lost the ball to Carter, whose five-foot jumper
gave the Raptors a seven-point cushion with 3:50 to go.
"The last three, four minutes of tonight's game, we didn't
execute," Hawks forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim
said. "It's more
just execution and finishing out our plays. We had good looks.
They hit a couple of crazy ones. We had a couple of easy ones
that we missed."
That was part of a 13-2 run Toronto used to to take its largest
lead, 107-93, with 69 seconds remaining. Carter capped it with
a pair of free throws, giving him six points in the spurt.
The Hawks shot just 5-of-15 (33 percent) in the fourth quarter,
going 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, and converted 6-of-12 free
throws. They hit on 48 percent of their shots overall
(39-of-82) but made just 1-of-10 from 3-point range.
"They made plays in the last three or four minutes," Stotts
said. "The ball kind of bounced their way. They converted their
opportunities at the offensive end and we didn't. We forced
them to take some tough shots."
Reserve Voshon Lenard added 23 points and Antonio Davis
had 13, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Raptors, who have won eight of the last nine meetings with the Hawks.
Robinson scored 29 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Abdur-Rahim had 22 and 12, but Atlanta was unable to match a
season high with its third straight win in the opener of a
"It's frustrating," Stotts said. "You want to have one of those
in the year when you have three, four, five, six (wins) in a
row. It kind of breaks up your season. You want to sustain the
ups a little bit better and it's frustrating."
Toronto cooled off Terry, holding the guard to eight points
after he averaged 20.8 over his previous four games. Terry shot
4-of-15, missing all four of his 3-point
"They (Rafliff, Robinson and Abdur-Rahim) stepped it up," said
Terry, who recorded nine assists. "We know our offense isn't
our problem. Defense is going to win you games, especially this
time of the year. We just couldn't do that tonight."
The Raptors, who have won three of their last four games, shot
50 percent (43-of-86). Their bench outscored Atlanta's, 27-10.