Carter Impressive in Return to North Carolina, but Toronto Falls Short
Posted March 1, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Charlotte's J.R. Reid sees great things from fellow North Carolina alum Vince Carter.
``Vince Carter is one heck of a player,'' Reid said Monday after the Hornets edged the Toronto Raptors 91-88. ``He's only going to improve. Those North Carolina guys are usually pretty good.''
Carter, playing in his first game in North Carolina since leaving the Tar Heels, hit at 17-footer to tie the game at 88-88. He then had a chance to give Toronto the lead when he blew past a defender and lofted a shot with 37 seconds remaining.
The ball bounced on the rim twice before Charlotte's Derrick Coleman grabbed the rebound. He then hit a free throw with 16.8 seconds to give Charlotte the lead for good.
Coleman, who finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, sealed the victory by blocking Doug Christie's driving shot in the lane. David Wesley grabbed the loose ball and was fouled with 1.4 seconds left, hitting two free throws for the final margin.
``I think the major difference in the game was Derrick Coleman,'' said Hornets head coach Dave Cowens. ``He was strong all night and he definitely gets the game ball.''
Coleman tallied his sixth double-double.
Wesley chipped in 21 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals for the Hornets (3-9), while Reid finished with 20 points.
Carter, Christie and Dee Brown each scored 15 points for Toronto (4-9), which battled back from a 14-point deficit to tie the game behind five fourth-quarter 3-pointers by Brown.
John Wallace had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Carter played 41 minutes and added nine rebounds, two assists - and a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
``I know I'm going to make mistakes,'' he said.
But Carter hasn't looked back since deciding to leave North Carolina early to join the NBA.
``I made the decision to come out and I stuck with it,'' Carter said about turning pro. ``It did make it tough watching Carolina do well early in the season. But the wait was worth it. It's a real opportunity for me and I'm learning every day.''
Charlotte took advantage of 10 Toronto turnovers and 14 points and 10 rebounds by Coleman to build a 48-42 halftime lead.