Raptors crown Kings in Vince Carter’s possible final game in Canada
Vince Carter returned to Toronto on Sunday afternoon and as a tribute, neither the Raptors, nor the Sacramento Kings played any defence.
At least in the first half, that is, with the Kings hitting 11-of-13 shots to begin the game and both teams notching 60+ points by halftime.
But the Raptors stepped up in the third, forcing seven turnovers, to ruin what might have been the final Canadian appearance by Carter, with a 108-93 win.
The Raptors eventually pulled away, to improve to 11-1 at the ACC and 12-4 against Western Conference opponents.
Spot starter C.J. Miles couldn’t get his jumper to fall, but the rest of the first unit was strong offensively and the bench, seemingly rejuvenated by the return of Delon Wright in the previous game, was outstanding. DeMar DeRozan had 21 points.
On the other side, Carter was given the start by his friend and head coach Dave Joerger, his first as a member of the Kings.
Ever the showman, Carter responded to a massive pre-game ovation by nailing his first shot, a classic jumper with that unforgettable form and then by smacking a layup attempt by DeMar DeRozan off of the glass. The former Air Canada rejected the one-time Heir Canada. Carter wasn’t done. The crowd wasn’t pleased that he didn’t dunk on a semi-breakaway, laying the ball in instead, but he had a sturdy rejection at the rim of 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas.
Carter was matched up for much of the matinee by rookie OG Anunoby, who was in diapers when Carter first suited up in Toronto. Carter had scored 22 in that one, the final Raptors game ever played at Maple Leaf Gardens.
In this one, Anunoby calmly sank three-pointers and easily was the top defender on the floor for either side.
The Kings led by two at the half thanks to a banked-in, buzzer-beating three-pointer by George Hill, before the Raptors put the clamps on the visitors.
Sacramento was held to 14 points in the third and just 16th in the fourth.
Carter checked back in late, before leaving in the final seconds to a standing ovation from the remainder of the crowd.
The Kings had been off since Thursday and came in with a lot of energy.
The team rested Zach Randolph, who Joerger had labeled its best player pre-game, while Toronto was without Serge Ibaka, who had a sore knee.
Ibaka had rounded into form after a slow start to the season, averaging 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in seven games this month, while shooting 57% on three-pointers.
Toronto returns to the road for back-to-back tilts in Philadelphia and Charlotte, starting on Wednesday.