Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 10/29

Game 1: Wednesday, October 29th
Game 2: Saturday, November 22nd
Game 3: Friday, February 20th
Game 4: Tuesday, February 24th

Nets 87

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Raptors 90

(1-0, 1-0 home)

    8:00 PM ET, October 29, 2003

    Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON

    1 2 3 4 T
    NJ 21 26 20 2087
    TOR 17 21 26 2690

    Top Performers

    New Jersey: K. Martin 26 Pts, 11 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Blk

    Toronto: V. Carter 39 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Ast

    Vinsanity steps up in fourth quarter

    TORONTO (AP) -- Vince Carter believes he can regain his status among the NBA's elite under new coach Kevin O'Neill.

    Carter scored 25 of his 39 points in the second half as the Toronto Raptors rallied for a 90-87 victory over the New Jersey Nets in the season opener for both teams Wednesday night.

    Carter, who played only 43 games last season because of injuries, almost single-handedly gave O'Neill his first win.

    "I've been working my butt off to get back to this level. I feel good, I feel healthy and I feel comfortable," said Carter, who hasn't played a complete season in three years because of knee injuries.

    O'Neill reluctantly accepted the game ball from Carter, who is happy to have a coach that is pushing him. O'Neill, known for his intense coaching style, replaced the easygoing Lenny Wilkens.

    "I'm happy for KO. He didn't want to take it," Carter said. "He's a good coach. I like him. I think he's good for us."

    Carter shot 5-for-14 from the field in the first half, but finished 15-for-30. He also went 9-for-10 from the foul line.

    "Since I got here, I've said that the least of my worries is Vince," said O'Neill, a former college coach who was an assistant with the Knicks and Pistons. "I mean, the guy took a lot of flak for being hurt, and I don't think that's fair. The bottom line is that when he's healthy, he's pretty hard to deal with."

    Kenyon Martin had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Eastern Conference champion Nets. Jason Kidd had 11 points on 4-for-18 shooting and missed a 3-pointer that could have tied it at the buzzer.

    Richard Jefferson shot 3-for-13 and scored 10.

    "We missed shots. Jason missed his and Richard missed some," said New Jersey coach Byron Scott, who doesn't have a contract beyond this year despite leading the Nets to two straight NBA Finals. "We stopped being aggressive at both ends of the court. With a superstar like Vince, you can't let them back in the game."

    Alonzo Mourning, who missed all of last season with a kidney ailment, had six points and three rebounds in 17 minutes in a reserve role. Mourning signed a $22 million, four-year contract with New Jersey this past summer.

    "Just getting back out there is progress," Mourning said. "At the same time, I still have a lot of room for improvement, so I'm going to continue to work."

    Kerry Kittles' dunk gave the Nets a 13-point lead early in the third quarter -- their biggest of the game.

    "Once we got up by 13, we just relaxed and put it in cruise control," Kidd said. "We have to understand how to finish off a team."

    Carter kicked the scorers table in frustration, and responded by scoring 14 of Toronto's next 22 points.

    "I want to win so bad. I want this team to get back to where we were in 2000," Carter said of the team that came within a jumper of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals that season. "I just wasn't satisfied with how I was playing."

    After Toronto's Chris Bosh made a layup, Carter drove to the basket for what would have been a spectacular dunk, but he missed after being fouled. He hit his two free throws.

    Carter capped a 14-4 run with a layup, cutting New Jersey's lead to one with 1:00 left in the third.

    Toronto's Milt Palacio stripped Doug Overton, and Jerome Williams made one of two free throws early in the fourth, tying it at 67.

    Martin scored on a dunk, but Carter followed with a jumper and a fadeaway for his 30th point, giving Toronto a 71-69 lead -- its first of the night.

    Kidd's two free throws gave New Jersey a one-point lead with 2:05 left, but Bosh made an open jumper.

    Carter was called for goaltending on Kidd's layup, giving New Jersey an 83-82 lead with 1:10 left, but Carter followed with a fadeaway and a running jumper, giving Toronto an 86-84 advantage with 14 seconds left.

    After Martin made one of two free throws, Alvin Williams made two free throws for Toronto with 12 seconds remaining.

    Martin's 3-pointer cut the lead to one with four seconds left, but Williams made two more free throws and Kidd missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

    Antonio Davis added 14 rebounds and 12 points for the Raptors, who shot 34 percent in the first half.

    Game notes

    Scott started Jason Collins instead of Mourning. ... The Raptors sported red uniforms, which are meant to emphasize they are Canada's team. They'll wear the alternate uniforms at least 10 times on the road. ... O'Neill started Jerome Williams instead of Bosh or Jerome Moiso. Williams had 14 rebounds and three points. He hardly played during the preseason, but impressed O'Neill in the last 10 days with his work ethic. ... Raptors forward Michael Bradley will undergo surgery on his right knee and is out indefinitely.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press