With the New Jersey Nets trailing by two with 7.2 seconds remaining, Vince Carter told Lawrence Frank he was going to do something he hasn't done as a Net yet - hit a last-second, game-winning shot.
"We're winning it," Carter told Frank.
In the city where he was often criticized for being too soft and having no heart, Carter talked and delivered like a superstar.
After Jose Calderon missed the second of two free throws, Carter capped a breathtaking 42-point, 10-rebound performance with a game-winning, 26-foot contested three-pointer with one-tenth of a second remaining to rally the Nets past Toronto, 105-104, Sunday at the Air Canada Centre.
The Nets won their 10th straight by erasing an eight-point deficit in the final two minutes of what was an intense game that included six technicals and one ejection (Morris Peterson). With Richard Jefferson lasting only two minutes due to back spasms, Carter scored 24 of his points in the final 10:09. His first game-winning shot as a Net came over Calderon from the left wing and it set off a wild celebration as the streaking Nets snapped Toronto's five-game win streak. Jalen Rose's side inbounds lob pass to Chris Bosh hit the backboard after Carter's three. Jason Kidd, who played like a man possessed after exchanging heated words with Mike James at the end of the first half, mobbed Carter at halfcourt, jumping and landing on Carter's shoulder and neck. Meanwhile, the Raptors and 18,935 fans stood stunned.
"It was very interesting to see how fast the signs flipped from they (being) on him to `we miss you' in seven seconds," said Kidd, who had 22 points and 15 assists. "He has been off the charts and there is no better place for him to make that shot than here."
In his third game here since last year's trade, Carter still heard boos every time he touched the ball. Carter butchered his first two shots and the crowd really got on him when he unintentionally got Peterson ejected with 23.7 seconds remaining in the first half. Peterson was given a technical foul after arguing a no-call with official Steve Javie. Peterson was still talking to Javie when Carter, who is close friends with Peterson, playfully slapped his former Raptor teammate on the cheek. When Peterson returned the favor, Javie slapped the Raptor fan favorite with his second technical and an automatic ejection.
James and Kidd engaged in heated trash-talking in the final seconds of the half. That had Kidd running into the locker room visibly steamed.
Looking like he did during playoff games in Boston, a fired-up Kidd scored 13 points in the third quarter to cut a nine-point deficit to three.
Toronto, though, played the Nets as tough as anybody during this streak. Bosh scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth and put the Raptors up 98-90 with two minutes left. After the Nets got it down to three, James (26 points) drilled a three-pointer with 1:01 left. But Carter, who showed rare emotion as he repeatedly pleaded with his teammates to step up, scored five straight points, including a three that made it a one-point game with 24.7 seconds to go.
Calderon was fouled and the Spaniard drilled both foul shots with 21.5 seconds left. Carter replied with two free throws with 10.9 seconds to go and then the Nets fouled Calderon again. When the rookie missed the second foul shot, Kidd rebounded with 6.7 seconds left and sprinted up court before finding Carter.
"I swear Jason was really in super-charged high gear," Carter said. "He was coming so fast I didn't have time to think."
All Raptors fans could think afterward was how brilliant Carter had been.
"It was sweet revenge," said Lamond Murray, who like Carter is a former Raptor. "He really wanted it. You could see the look in his eyes."
In other NBA action: New York 120, Seattle 116; Denver 92, Houston 90; Miami 118, Portland 89; Indiana 108, Sacramento 83.