Carter's Return Stuns the Kings

From Associated Press

Vince Carter is back, and the Toronto Raptors won again.

Carter, playing for the first time since Dec. 10, helped the Raptors to a 101-97 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday at Toronto, ending a five-game losing streak.

Carter, who sat out 23 games because of a strained right knee, scored Toronto's last six points on his 26th birthday. He finished with 22 points.

"It was a very nice birthday present," Carter said. "It wasn't just a present for the team, it was a present for the fans. It was an opportunity to show that we can play with one of the best teams in the league and show that when we get the majority of our guys back we're a pretty good team ourselves."

His fadeaway jumper gave the Raptors a 97-91 lead with 1:36 left, and his two free throws made it 99-94 with 17.7 seconds left.

Sacramento's Jim Jackson followed with a three-point field goal, but Carter made two free throws with 7.9 seconds left to give the Raptors a four-point lead.

Mike Bibby scored 30 points and Chris Webber had 24 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists for the Kings, who shot 39.3%.

Carter looked tentative in the opening minutes but scored 15 points in the second half. He made eight of 16 shots. His three-pointer, fadeaway jumper and short jumper gave Toronto a nine-point lead early in the third quarter.

Portland 100, Dallas 93 -- The Trail Blazers have won nine of their last 11 road games -- including the last four -- and have 15 road wins, tying the Mavericks for the most in the NBA. Portland's previous two games went a total of three overtime periods.

Portland erased an early 14-point deficit by working the ball low and pounding inside. The Trail Blazers scored 52 points in the paint and had 16 more rebounds than Dallas, which lost at home for the first time since Dec. 30 against Milwaukee.

Zack Randolph made his fifth career start, all coming since Rasheed Wallace was suspended for seven games, and scored 16 points for Portland. The Trail Blazers are 4-1 since Wallace was punished for threatening referee Tim Donaghy after a victory over Memphis on Jan. 15.

Chicago 100, Houston 98 -- Marcus Fizer grabbed a loose ball in the lane and scored with four-tenths of a second left at Chicago and the Bulls extended the Rockets' losing streak to four games. With the score tied, 98-98, Jalen Rose drove to the basket, lost the ball in the lane and Fizer retrieved it by muscling past several Rocket players before putting the ball in the basket.

Rose scored 29 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, and batted away a final Houston lob pass to clinch the victory.

Boston 91, Orlando 83 -- Paul Pierce had the first triple-double of his career with 27 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 13 assists to lead the Celtics at Boston.

The Magic was without NBA scoring leader Tracy McGrady, who stayed in Florida with his fiancee after she gave birth to a daughter Saturday night at an Orlando-area hospital.

Boston also played without a key player as Antoine Walker sat out for his third consecutive time because of a sprained right knee. The Celtics have won two of them and are 6-1 in their last seven.

New York 106, Phoenix 98 -- The Knicks benefited from one of the worst games of the season by Sun rookie Amare Stoudemire. The 20-year-old scored three points and missed three of four free throws at Madison Square Garden.

Kurt Thomas and Latrell Sprewell each scored 28 points for the Knicks, who built a 22-point lead before holding off the Suns. Stephon Marbury had 31 points for the Suns, making the fourth stop on a five-game trip.

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