Work in Sports
Knicks shut down Raptors' Carter to take Game 1
Posted: Monday April 24, 2000 03:22 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Feeling playoff pressure for the first time, a frustrated Vince Carter had a performance he'd rather forget.
"I was overexcited. I wasn't my normal self," Carter said after missing 17 shots -- including his first dozen -- as the Toronto Raptors lost the first postseason game in franchise history, 92-88 to the New York Knicks Sunday.
Carter started poorly, got down on himself and played one of his worst games of the season, scoring 16 points but shooting only 3-for-20 from the field.
He also went 9-for-10 at the line, with the one miss a huge one after he was flagrantly fouled with 40 seconds left and the Raptors trailing by three. Toronto didn't score again until 2.5 seconds remained, and by then it was too late.
"My mechanics were not what they'd be in a regular-season game. That happens," Carter said. "I just couldn't hit a shot."
The Knicks, after blowing an early 19-point lead, got a big 3-pointer from Larry Johnson in the final minute and wrapped up the victory at the foul line to take Game 1 of the best-of-five series. Game 2 is Wednesday.
Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell scored 21 points apiece for New York, Patrick Ewing and Johnson had 15 each, and Chris Childs 12.
The game's biggest shot was Johnson's 3-pointer with 43 seconds left that put New York ahead to stay. Then came the moment when Carter, with a chance to redeem himself for a forgettable afternoon, failed again.
Sprewell flagrantly fouled Carter on a drive to the basket, bringing him down by the shoulders.
"I knew it was coming, but it was later rather than earlier," Carter said. "I think they were testing me to see how I'd react to it."
The Raptors got two foul shots and the ball, but Carter missed the first before making the second, then missed a finger roll -- a shot he'd usually turn into a dunk.
The ball went out of bounds off the Knicks and Toronto had another chance to tie. But Tracy McGrady missed from the corner, Doug Christie missed a follow shot, and New York rebounded.
"When you have great players, and we've seen it on our team, sometimes things don't go well for you," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said of Carter. "We know that he is great, and he's going to come back and play hard Wednesday."
McGrady had 25 points to lead the Raptors, who shot only 37 percent from the field.
The Knicks led the entire way until Ewing lost the ball to Charles Oakley in the low post with a chance to put New York ahead by five. Toronto pushed the ball upcourt and found Carter in the corner for a 3-pointer that produced an 81-81 tie with 2:23 left.
There were two more ties before the Raptors ran to double-team Ewing and the Knicks swung the ball to Johnson for a wide-open 3-pointer that made it 88-85 with 43 seconds left. Johnson flashed his "Big L" symbol, pointing at his elbow as he did in last year's playoffs whenever he made a big 3-pointer.
Next came the flagrant foul, and Carter couldn't pick himself up.
"I have a game under my belt, and we have time to settle down and get back to basics," Carter said. "There's things I know now that I wish I knew before the game, but I'll be ready for Game 2."
Before the series, much was made by Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy about the way Toronto had won first quarters of the past seven games between the teams over the past two seasons. But it was apparent right away that this one was going to be different.
Carter was 0-for-3 with a foul and a turnover in the first 4 1/2 minutes, and his poor shooting was contagious as the Raptors missed 17 of their first 19 shots and fell behind 27-8.
"They came out like every possession was their last, and they were playing Game 7," Toronto coach Butch Carter said.
Marcus Camby escalated his feud with coach Carter when he made consecutive shots midway through the second quarter. He glared at the Raptors coach both times and mouthed an obscenity the second time.
But the Knicks' lead started to dwindle, and when Oakley and Christie began the third quarter by hitting three straight jumpers, it was down to 48-44.
Carter still couldn't find his range, though, and the Knicks' lead went back to nine again.
"Vince was just overexcited. He wasn't relaxed," McGrady said. "We were caught up in the hype of it being our first playoff game."
McGrady and Muggsy Bogues dropped in consecutive 3-pointers to cut it to 65-62, but New York kept answering and got its lead back up to 71-62 entering the final quarter. Carter then finally made two shots -- his first two makes of the game -- and scored two from the line, making it 71-68 early in the fourth.
Notes: NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik weighed in on the
Carter-Camby feud, telling NBC: "The idea of a coach suing a
player over his public comments seems unprecedented and
inappropriate." Carter said before the game that his $5 million
lawsuit against Camby "would go away" if Camby publicly
apologized. ... Comedians Chris Rock, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara
occupied the best seats in celebrity row.