The Toronto Raptors wasted no time letting the Los Angeles Lakers know they came to play.
Toronto raced out to a 23-9 lead in the first seven minutes and rode the hot shooting of Vince Carter to a 111-102 victory Sunday night for its first win in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
Carter had a career-high 34 points and 13 rebounds despite bruising his right hip. He was knocked down hard in the third quarter under Toronto's basket. After a few minutes lying on the floor, he got up and remained in the game.
Late in the period, Carter, last season's NBA rookie of the year, scored seven consecutive points to give the Raptors a lead they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the game.
"Vince is the highlight man. He can do a lot of things," teammate Tracy McGrady said. "He's very versatile and it's just tough to guard him. He did everything tonight defense, rebounding; the guy just did it all."
"Half man, half amazing," O'Neal said of Carter. "We ran into a brick wall. They shot the ball very well, especially down the stretch. We've got to play better defense, especially in the second half."
Toronto was hotter from the 3-point line, hitting 62 percent, than from the field, where the Raptors hit 44 percent. Dee Brown led the way, connecting on 4 of his eight 3-pointers, while Del Curry hit all three of his 3-point attempts.
"This is a big one for us not just beating the Lakers in their building, but this is the start of a five-game road trip and the big one is always the first one," Curry said. "When you get that one, you can make it a very special trip."
The Lakers trailed much of the game until O'Neal completed the first of two three-point plays in the third quarter that gave them a 68-66 lead with 5:12 left.
The teams were tied three times until Carter's third consecutive basket on a 3-pointer gave Toronto a 77-76 lead.
O'Neal sandwiched his second three-point play of the quarter around a basket by Christie and McGrady's one-handed dunk that ended the third with the Raptors ahead 81-79.
The Lakers again drew within two on a basket by Robert Horry early in the fourth quarter, but a tip-in by Davis and a 3-pointer from Carter pushed Toronto's lead to 88-81.
The Lakers were never on the free-throw line in the fourth, when Toronto hit six of its eight foul shots. For the game, the Raptors made 25 of 33 free throws, while the Lakers were 14 of 27.
"We could have shot free throws better and that would have been the difference in the ballgame, but that's a given," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We just didn't match the intensity of the game when it came down to a critical point."
Curry scored seven straight points for Toronto's largest lead of the quarter at 95-83. The Lakers came within three when Brown turned the ball over on a double dribble and Ron Harper scored with 1:49 remaining.
But Carter scored and Brown hit a 3-pointer to keep the Raptors ahead 107-99 with 1:06 left.
"They have a very fine team, players who can jump out of the gym," Harper said. "We don't have athletes that can jump that high. I'm 35. I don't jump that high anymore."
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