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Bad decision

Second-year player has a little growing up to do

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Posted: Thursday April 27, 2000 12:35 PM


By Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated

NEW YORK -- "Things happen. Things happen." A stoic Vince Carter kept repeating the mantra Wednesday night after his team's loss to the Knicks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference playoff series. It was almost as if Carter still couldn't believe his team had blown a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and fallen behind 2-0 in the best-of-five series.

Or maybe the second-year phenom simply couldn't believe he had passed the ball (to Dee Brown!) with a chance to win the game at the end. "He was open," Carter said.

So were most of Michael Jordan's teammates all those years, Vince.

Finally, some killer instinct

The Knicks were almost giddy after their victory. Maybe it was because coach Jeff Van Gundy gave them Thursday off as a reward. Or maybe it was because they realized they now have the series in the bag.

Before the game, the Knicks -- who twice last year lost Game 2's after winning the opening game -- were worried a letdown that would let Toronto gain confidence and make it a long series.

To remind their players of this fact, Knicks coaches had the following listed as their No. 1 key to the game on the whiteboard in the locker room: "Go For The Win. Attack!"
Vince Carter Foul trouble forced Vince Carter (above) to play soft defense against Latrell Sprewell. AP  

For the record, the other keys listed were "Turn around rebounding (Toronto outboarded New York 47-34 in Game 1) and "14 A/17 TO" (a reference to the Knicks' 14 assists and 17 turnovers in Game 1).

The Knicks did turn around the rebounding, beating the Raptors 37-35 on the glass. They were careless and somewhat stagnant on offense early on, however, racking up 13 turnovers (10 in the first half) with just nine assists.

Devastating defeat

Despite being in a 2-0 hole, the Raptors said all the right things afterward. "We feel like we gave two games away," veteran guard Muggsy Bogues said. "It's a tough one to swallow. But it's who gets to three wins first. They've got two, but it's not over yet."

Veteran forward Antonio Davis, however, admitted the defeat was heartbreaking. "This one will be tougher [to forget]," Davis said in the near-empty visitor's locker room. "But I think we can bounce back. I really do."

Double-edged sword

The Raptors benefited from a tightly officiated game in which both teams went to the foul line early and often. Toronto finished with 33-of-41 shooting from the line (80.5 percent), compared with New York's 28-of-38 (73.7%).

Carter got to the foul line 16 times, the perfect tonic for a young scorer battling a hangover from Game 1. However, all the whistles caught up to Carter and the Raptors late. With five fouls, Carter said he was unable to get up on Knicks guard Latrell Sprewell in the fourth quarter, one reason why Spree was able to take over the game.

Muggsy-ed in New York

If there's any consolation for the Raptors heading into Game 3, it's that coach Butch Carter's experiment of putting Muggsy Bogues in the starting lineup worked fairly well. Bogues helped the Raptors get into a smooth offensive flow early, something they desperately needed after getting off to a horrid start in Game 1.

Brown also credited Bogues with helping Toronto's defense, which bottled up New York for the first three quarters before Larry Johnson and Spree shredded it to bits in the fourth. "He raises our intensity," Brown said of Bogues. "He can pressure the ball full court, and it just gives our whole D a lift."

Bogues' clutch 3-point shot, which put Toronto up 81-78 late in the game, wasn't bad, either. Brown said he expects the coaches will stick with Bogues as a starter in Game 3.

Related information
SI's Marty Burns: Life lesson for Vince
Bogues gets starting nod over Christie in Game 2
Knicks play dead then rally to take 2-0 series lead
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