The Toronto Raptors had a hunch that Chauncey Billups could play better than he did in Boston.
So far, so good.
Billups had a career-high 27 points on Sunday to lead the Raptors to a 113-105 overtime victory over the Vancouver Grizzlies. The rookie point guard also committed five turnovers and shot only 5-for-13 from the field, but interim coach Butch Carter forgave the mistakes.
"I told Chauncey after the game, he's going to drive me crazy, but I'm going to give him a lot of love," Carter said. "He can't expect the other players out on the court to respect him if he makes mental mistakes."
Billups, the No. 3 overall pick in the 1997 draft, was obtained from the Celtics last week. The deal came after Kenny Anderson refused to report following the trade that sent him from Portland to the Raptors.
"This was one of the worst 27s I've ever had," Billups said. "You're trying to make things happen out there, and you're the guy the other team is trying to stop."
If nothing else, Billups showed he's a clutch performer from the free throw line, shooting 8-for-10 in overtime.
Before the game, Carter had to deal with his first problem since taking over for Darrell Walker, who resigned on Feb. 13 after Toronto traded point guard Damon Stoudamire to Portland.
After arriving at 3 a.m. from Milwaukee on Saturday morning, Carter called a team practice for 7:30 p.m. Marcus Camby skipped it.
"He didn't feel like coming to practice, so he didn't start," said Carter, who put Camby in the game six minutes into the first quarter.
"It was for personal reasons," explained Camby, who had 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. "I came out three hours early (on Sunday) and got my shots in."
Gary Trent, another new arrival, had 15 rebounds and four blocks in 30 minutes after not playing for nine days. Trent missed his first three games with Toronto because of a nagging hip flexor problem.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 22 points to lead the Grizzlies, who battled back from a 16-point deficit in the second quarter. Vancouver got a 3-pointer from Pete Chilcutt in the waning seconds to send the game to overtime. Chilcutt had 17 off the bench for the Grizzlies, while Bryant Reeves grabbed 11 rebounds.
Notes: Vancouver's Blue Edwards is the only player on either team that has been there since the start of the expansion season in 1995 ... The Raptors are 1-4 under Carter.
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