CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- First they collided and fell sprawling to the floor. Then they went dunk for dunk in a brief exhibition that showcased two of the NBA's young stars.
When it was over, Baron Davis and Vince Carter exchanged praise for one another, but Davis came out ahead with 17 points, a
career-high 15 assists and a Charlotte victory, 104-90 over the slumping Toronto Raptors on Thursday night.
"Baron Davis is an All-Star and he did what he was supposed to do," Carter said.
Davis was left momentarily speechless when told of Carter's assessment.
"That's something coming from him, one of the best players in the league," Davis said.
It was hardly a lovefest during the first quarter, when the two knocked each other to the floor in a pile of arms and legs while chasing after a loose ball. Carter got the worst of it, setting the theme for the night.
Carter was slow to get up and appeared to injure his left wrist
in the fall -- he had it taped it halftime -- and his touch was off
the next 20 minutes.
But he eventually found it again, scoring 21 of his 31 points in the second half while helping the Raptors cut a 29-point deficit to nine, 93-82 with 6:45 to go.
"The points don't matter, that's not what I'm out there for," Carter said. "We fight when we're down 20 or 30, but I'd like to see us fight when we're up 10 or five of three or even down one -- when we need to."
Carter showed his usual flash and briefly engaged in a first-half dunking contest with Davis, who had a pair of one-handed dunks, spinning past Carter and slamming the second one down over him.
But Carter got all the style points, especially on a two-handed reverse alley-oop that wowed the fans who came out to see the former North Carolina Tar Heel.
"You always get up to play against the best guys in the league, especially someone like him because you know he's going to bring it," Davis said. "But I wasn't trying to out-dunk him, I'm not fool enough to think I can beat him at that."
After the exhibition, Carter and the Raptors played little defense in losing for the fifth time in six games. It was also Toronto's eighth consecutive loss in the Charlotte Coliseum, helping the Hornets snap their five-game home losing streak.
"We wanted to come home and give our fans something to cheer about," said Campbell.
The Hornets led 85-67 at the end of the third quarter and
appeared to be on their way to an easy win. But Carter scored 12
points and twice cut Charlotte's lead to nine.
He hit his second 3-pointer of the game to cut the score to
89-78, but Nailon answered with two free throws and a jumper for
Carter then scored on consecutive possessions, the first on a flying one-handed dunk of Clark's miss, then an open jumper that cut Charlotte's lead to 93-82.
"The effort to come back was there, but unfortunately it's
never enough when you're that far behind," Toronto coach Lenny
Wilkens said. "It was too much to overcome."
Carter hit Toronto's first 3-pointer of the game with 10:14
to play, continuing the Raptors streak of at least a contest to 226
straight, the longest streak in the NBA. Toronto shot just 3-for-11
from 3-point range. ... The Hornets shot 76 percent in the first
quarter en route to a 40-point effort, a season-high for points in
a period and just shy of the franchise record 44 first-quarter
points the Hornets scored in a 1992 game. ... The Raptors have
failed to score 100 or more points in 13 of their past 15 games.
... Campbell made his first five shots and finished 8-for-12.
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