Phoenix Suns 110, Toronto Raptors 92 -- The Vinsanity of old

Vince Carter was Half Man, Half Amazing in this one, but why can't he be that guy more often? (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

Vince Carter was Half Man, Half Amazing in this one, but why can't he be that guy more often? (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

Vince Carter’s performance in the Suns’ 110-92 victory over the Raptors Friday night is the reason Toronto fans still shower him with boos every time he returns for a visit.

Carter looked like the Raptors version of himself, particularly in his stellar 11-point, four-rebound, four-steal first quarter that buoyed the Suns to a 35-14 opening period advantage that the Raptors never recovered from.

For the game he went for 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go with seven boards, six steals and a game-high plus 23. On a night in which Steve Nash shot a very rare 2-for-12 (has he ever done that?), Carter ensured the Suns didn’t miss a beat.

His most spectacular dunk gave the Suns their first score of the game as Nash lofted a pass beyond halfcourt that Carter caught for a stunning reverse alley-oop, showcasing the kind of hops that earned him the Half Man, Half Amazing nickname.

What’s almost as incredible as the dunk itself is the fact that Carter started the play behind the Raptors’ free-throw line when Robin Lopez grabbed the ball to inbound yet he was somehow already at the tin when Nash approached half court. Carter also made a variety of other athletic moves, floating through the lane for buckets like the Vinsanity of old.

Obviously Carter wanted to impress the Air Canada Centre crowd, and he even spoke on the postgame show about wanting to “give them a show.” I just don’t get how a guy who had recorded seven steals in the month of February could all of a sudden explode for a six, and a guy who had looked a few steps slow could all of a sudden throw down one of the better Suns dunks of the season.

All of that should be a positive, and for this game it was. Carter was the game MVP and he played a superb basketball game.

I just don’t get how he can look so lethargic to the point you even forget that Vince Carter is out on the floor and then out of nowhere toss up a Vinsanity game like this in front of his old fans. I have a feeling those Toronto fans might have an answer for that question.

This isn’t meant to pile on the hate on Vince after one of his best games as a Sun, I just would rather see more consistency instead of outbursts like this sandwiched between lots of lackluster play.

Carter helped the Suns pull of a rarity in today’s NBA world and that is win a game in the first quarter. The Raptors cut the lead to 12 early in the third but it was back up to 26 later in the period as Toronto never seriously threatened.

Their 21-point lead after one was such a surprise because Nash finished the quarter scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting and the team shot “only” 48 percent, very solid but not what you would expect in a 35-point period. They built up the lead because Nash did everything else with seven assists and five rebounds and the Suns won the battle of the boards 15-8 while holding Toronto to 30 percent shooting.

“Obviously we got off to a good start,” Alvin Gentry said. “It wasn’t so much the offence as it was I thought we did a great job defensively of kind of limiting easy baskets. … When we score 35 and they score 14, then they are playing catch up the rest of the way.”

Added Raptors head coach Jay Triano, “When you’re a step slow and we get off to the start that we did, we played them even after the first quarter, but at that point our confidence was shot as well, for a lot of guys.”

Carter got some help from his former Orlando Magic teammates as Marcin Gortat recorded his league-best 10th double-double off the bench (all since the middle of January) with 17 points and 11 boards off the pine on 7-for-9 shooting, and Mickael Pietrus chipped in with 14 of his own.

The blowout allowed the Suns to rest their starters, which is always nice with five games yet to go on this East Coast swing, and it’s exactly what the Suns should do against a team that’s struggled as much as Toronto this season.

Perhaps it would be unfair to expect these kinds of games from Carter every night as he’s not exactly the youngster who once delighted this Toronto crowd so.

That I understand, as even the great Grant Hill is just a completely different than he was in his prime, morphing from a superstar who does everything very well to a role player/defensive stopper who does everything pretty well.

If Carter could play with the kind of explosion and focus he displayed tonight on a more regular basis than he would never have to worry about sitting fourth quarters and the Suns could sustain more periods of excellence like their first quarter tonight.

And 1

The Suns have won 13 in a row against Toronto. … Nash passed the 9,000-assist plateau in his career.

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