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.

Tags: Vince Carter

  • Keir

    Maybe Carter needs to feel loved?

    When the Toronto fans turned on him his performance suffered. In NJ he arrived and ressurrected their season with an incredible play-off push and he got showered in love. He played well for NJ.

    Orlando and SVGrumpy was far from ideal and his passion was missing even though he beame increasingly efficient as he learnt the offence. Then he gets traded to the Suns as an afterthought and written off before he arrives.

    I think he needs to find his place in the offence and I think he needs to feel loved. Hopefully the team and coaching staff can give him the loving he needs as the fans and media arn’t going to lead the charge.

  • Daniel

    He needs to be loved? Is he a child?

    I couldn’t help think the same things as Michael Scwartz while watching that first quarter (my exact thoughts were, ‘If only we could play Toronto every night’). That dramatic of a difference is empirical evidence of what everyone knows already; Vince doesnt give a damn about anything but himself. His performance was an opportunity to pad his ego. Whatever gets the win, I suppose

  • Dj327

    Remember it was the raptors. It’s not like Vince came out with a vendetta against an elite team and delivered. I don’t think his inconsistency is for lack of effort, and I definitely wouldn’t call him selfish.

  • kennyb1978

    Vince is playing with the cards that are dealt. It doesn’t matter who they are playing, if Gentry calls plays for him early in the game, he’s more aggressive. But for the most part Phoenix runs a 1/5 pick and roll set, with outside shooters staged in the corners. It’s similar to the situation in Orlando, Nelson/Howard…so a SGs numbers will suffer, look at J-Rich right now. He put up 17 last night, but he’s having similar struggles.
    Overall, I think Vince has done well for the Suns. Eventhough his scoring output is not what it once was, he doesn’t force the action like he used to. And if someone else is hot, he defers. I also haven’t heard a single complaint from him, he’s just been about his business, same as when he was in Orlando. The dude is one of the last good guys in the league and as much as I would like to light him on fire, I appreciate his game, because I can’t do .0001% of what he can do. Rob Mahoney posted a good article on the situation:

  • Freddy

    The sad part is after this good game he will play horrible for the rest of this road trip. 1 good game 7 bad ones.

  • PHZ-Sicks

    I have to agree with Kenny. While watching last night’s game, it was really obvious to see how VC could get lost in the shuffle. He really doesn’t have speed anymore so those easy baskets aren’t there for him. During the PnR, Grant and VC are pretty much stagnant with Grant and VC behind the three. Remember, we had similar talks about J. Rich at times.

    I think what scares players is having a PG as good as Steve Nash. He can create so much that players seem to fear to take it out his hands. VC has to not be afraid of sometimes going one on one if he want to asset himself in the offense like he did last night. Other than that, I rather see him play the defense he did last night more than anything else.

  • shawn


  • Jabari

    Wow – Nash passes 9K assists, and nary a mention on TrueHoop or

    A grand total of 5 or 6 players IN HISTORY have that many. Shouldn’t that be worth anything, or is TrueHoop the “All Heat/Knicks, all the time” blog?


  • Steve


    Is anyone talkin gabout Marcin Gortat for 6th man of the year? I think he should be considered, especially if the Suns end up making the playoffs. Besides Steve Nash, he’s the main reason for our success (along with Grant’s defense).

  • Mike

    Recall those 2-3 games in Orlando where 4 players were out (Howard, Jameer, Pietrus, Reddick). SVG let Vince run the offense. The offense under VC was very good.

    If you let VC run the offense like a Kobe does in LA, you’ll get more from him.

    But if you insist on player team ball where the true PG (Nash) runs the offense, then you can expect that players like VC will have nothing better then to settle for jumpers and 3′s.

    VC at his age, is simply playing the game smart so as to prevent injury and preserve his body for the playoffs. Let the younger and bigger guys “bang”. Pick your shots and plays. That’s what VC does at his age.

  • Sean

    Nice comments above about Vince Carter and how the Suns’ offesne isn’t a great fit for him.

    @dj above – these Raptors just beat the Bulls earlier this week. They’re not that good, but this is the NBA man; any road win is a good win.

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  • Dirk

    “Vince doesnt give a damn about anything but himself.”

    You’re a liar and an idiot. Just because a player goes into a slump doesn’t mean they don’t care about anyone but themself.

  • Adam

    Think about it…he performed well when the team knew that it was his old team…he was the number 1 option everytime on offense. In a normal game he’s prob number 4 because of nashs screen and rolls with robin lopez , frye and hill after that Vince gets a touch. He got the ball he produced…I dont know how you people cant see this…you cant expect him to score 20 each night when he recieves the ball 1 out of every 6 possesions. Give him the ball or shut up.