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Raptors Even Series With Solid All-Around Effort
NEW YORK, April 22 (AP) -- Just like last year, the New York Knicks turned Game 1 into a miserable experience for Vince Carter.

Kurt Thomas knocked Carter to the floor the first time he went to the basket, setting the tone for a frustrating afternoon for Carter as the Knicks defeated the Toronto Raptors 92-85 Sunday.

Carter turns the tables on Sprewell with suffocating defense in Game 1.
AP Photos TV highlights: 28.8+ | ISDN+
"My mom always told me there'll be days like this," Carter said after the game. "As a matter of fact, she just told me that."

Carter, who shot 3-for-20 last year in the first playoff game of his career, finished 5-for-22 from the field for 13 points. He did not score over the final 8 1/2 minutes as the Knicks controlled the fourth quarter and eventually pulled away in the final minute.

Thomas had a superb game with 17 points and 13 rebounds in his first career playoff start. Allan Houston scored 23 for New York and Latrell Sprewell added 13 in addition to playing strong defense on Carter.

The Knicks outrebounded the Raptors, repeatedly attacked their weakest defenders and handled themselves like playoff veterans down the stretch.

Game 2 in the best-of-5 series will be Thursday night, giving Carter almost four full days to ponder why this year's Game 1 looked so much like last year's.

"A lot of times he was rushing," teammate Chris Childs said. "He was out to prove a point that last year was going to be totally different. It's only natural for an athlete to want to do that."

Marcus Camby led the Knicks with 18 rebounds, including an offensive board that he turned into a reverse layup with 6:34 left to give the Knicks a four-point lead. The Raptors got within two points twice after that but never had a chance to get any closer.

Thomas and Co. stop the Raptors:
28.8+ | ISDN+
With Carter being double-teamed every time he touched the ball, the Raptors turned to Antonio Davis and Alvin Williams for their offense. Each scored 19, and Davis grabbed 15 rebounds.

"I'm not blaming this on Vince," Davis said. "It's not about Vince making or missing shots. We came here as a team."

Davis hit two foul shots with 55 seconds left to cut Toronto's deficit to two, but Sprewell answered with two from the line to restore a four-point lead, 87-83, with 38.5 seconds left.

Davis tipped in a miss by Carter with 28 seconds left, but the Raptors immediately fouled Glen Rice -- despite their coaches yelling not to foul. Rice made both, and Charlie Ward stripped the ball from Davis as he was about to shoot a 2-footer.

Ward made two free throws to make it 91-85 with 16.3 seconds left, and Carter -- who continually complained that he wasn't getting any calls -- threw away the ensuing inbounds pass for the last of his five turnovers.

"It is frustrating because we feel we're capable of winning this series, but you've got to get one first," Carter said.

Thomas rejected Carter's shot on his first drive to the basket, a block so forceful that Carter ended up lying on his backside.

"That wasn't a block in my opinion," Carter said. "He hit my head. I was expecting it, I was ready for it. The key question was can I get up from it and keep playing, and I did."

The play seemed to take something out of Carter, who missed his first seven shots before putting back his own miss to give the Raptors a 26-24 lead.

Carter ended the first half with a high-flying dunk with 0.4 seconds remaining for a 44-41 lead, then began the second half with an alley-oop slam off a pass from Charles Oakley.

Toronto opened a 48-41 lead before the Knicks responded with a 9-0 run, and New York took a 66-65 lead into the fourth as Carter continued to struggle.

Thomas scored four straight points midway through the fourth, and Camby's reverse layup gave New York a 78-74 lead with 6:34 left. Ward hit a 3-pointer a minute later to give the Knicks a six-point lead.

"We were going to give 100 percent no matter what," Thomas said. "We played great today. We played as a team and finished well."

Notes: Childs was booed, although not as much as in his first visit to New York since being traded to Toronto ... Ex-Knicks Dave DeBusschere and Dick Barnett sat on celebrity row alongside comedian Billy Crystal.

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