TORONTO (AP)—Vince Carter gave Toronto fans a brand new reason to boo him.
Carter scored 39 points against his former team, Devin Harris added 30 and the New Jersey Nets rallied from an 18-point, third-quarter deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 129-127 in overtime on Friday night.
Harris called Carter’s performance “incredible.”
“He’s been doing that his whole career, but I’ve never seen it firsthand,” Harris said. “I was out there watching it just like everybody else.”
Jeered every time he touched the ball, Carter sent the game to overtime by draining a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds remaining in regulation, capping a stretch that saw him score 12 consecutive points for the Nets.
Anthony Parker returned the favor, nailing a turnaround 3 from the corner with 2.9 seconds left in the extra session to tie it at 127, but Carter won it with a reverse dunk on Bobby Simmons’ inbounds pass with 2.1 seconds left.
“He (Carter) is one of the best athletes in the game,” said Toronto’s Chris Bosh, who had 42 points. “(Nets coach) Lawrence Frank drew up a fantastic play and left it up to his best player and he capitalized.”
Traded to New Jersey in December 2004, Carter has faced varying levels of abuse in each of his 11 return visits north of the border.
“You feel so good for Vince when you have the crowd like that, all the times we’ve been up here, for him to hit the 3 to put it into overtime and for him to get the dunk,” Frank said.
Carter, who also made an overtime 3-pointer to beat the Raptors in January 2006, insisted he doesn’t hold any grudges against the team where he begans his career, calling Toronto the place he grew up.
“I know, deep down, that’s just sports, that’s the way it goes,” Carter said. “I root for my team and I’m a terrible fan, also.”
Carter said his only motivation was to do better than Tuesday, when he scored a season-low 12 points in a loss to the Cavaliers.
“My performance against Cleveland was unacceptable,” Carter said. “I consider myself the leader of this team and I need to come out and play. It wasn’t about where I am and who we’re playing, it was more play a better game for my team.”
Frank jokingly urged the Toronto crowd to cut Carter some slack.
“Vince plays well everywhere, so don’t take it personal,” Frank said. “He’s a pretty good player.”
“You could feel everybody in the stadium stand up, everybody was on edge,” Parker said. “Bigger than the game, you just want him to be healthy.”
O’Neal, who came in averaging 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds, stayed down for a minute before walking gingerly to the bench. He returned after a timeout but missed both free throws before being replaced by Kris Humphries and hobbling into the locker room alongside the trainer. A team official said O’Neal, who finished with seven points and seven rebounds, was taken to a hospital to undergo further tests. No results are expected until Saturday, when a second doctor examines the test results.
Andrea Bargnani scored a career-high 29 points and had 10 rebounds for Toronto, but missed a pair of 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds of overtime. He called it the toughest loss of his career.
“I don’t even know what to say, I’m so upset,” Bargnani said. “It’s unbelievable. We were winning, we had the game under control, we made a couple of stupid mistakes.”
Jose Calderon had 26 points and 15 assists for Toronto.
O’Neal fell backward when Williams tugged on the bottom of O’Neal’s jersey as he was going up for a shot. O’Neal landed awkwardly, clutching at his left thigh, above a brace he wears on the knee.
“He’s an All-Star, he’s proven,” Carter said. “He clogs up the lane on the defensive end. He’s a big loss.”
O’Neal missed 40 games last season because of lingering pain from a torn ligament in his left knee that was surgically repaired the previous summer. He joined Toronto in an offseason trade that sent guard T.J. Ford to Indiana.
Harris, New Jersey’s leading scorer so far this season, had to go to the locker room early in the third because of an upset stomach, his pre-game grilled cheese sandwich not sitting right. He returned before the end of the quarter.
“I got some fluids up out of me, felt great, came back no problem at all,” Harris said.
Calderon made all six of his free throws and is 32-for-32 from the line this season. … Toronto recorded its highest-scoring first quarter (33 points) and first half (61) of the season. … New Jersey’s Eduardo Najera appeared in his 500th career game. … Buffalo Bills receiver Lee Evans attended the game.