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Raptors savor Carter’s return with big victory

SHARE Raptors savor Carter’s return with big victory

TORONTO — Vince Carter, playing for the first time since Dec. 10, scored 22 points as the Toronto Raptors beat the Sacramento Kings 101-97 and snapped their five-game losing streak.

Carter, who missed 23 games because of a strained right knee, scored Toronto's last six points on his 26th birthday.

His fadeaway jumper gave the Raptors a 97-91 lead with 1:36 left, and his two free throws made it 99-94 with 17.7 seconds remaining.

Mike Bibby scored 30 points and Chris Webber had 24 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists for the Kings, who shot 39 percent from the field in losing for the second straight game.

Carter looked tentative in the opening minutes, but scored 15 points in the second half. He finished 8-for-16 from the field.

PACERS 108, CLIPPERS 101: At Indianapolis, Jermaine O'Neal had 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots, and Ron Artest and Al Harrington each scored 17 as the Indiana Pacers beat the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Pacers won their 14th straight at home, the second-longest streak at Conseco Fieldhouse. The 1999-2000 Pacers set the team record with 25 straight victories.

Brad Miller had 13 points and 11 rebounds, Jamaal Tinsley had 15 assists and Erick Strickland added 13 points, including four 3-pointers.

Elton Brand scored 17 points, grabbed 14 and 10 assists for the Clippers. Corey Maggette scored 25 points — on 11-for-19 shooting — and Lamar Odom had 14.

KNICKS 106, SUNS 98: At New York, Kurt Thomas and Latrell Sprewell scored 28 points apiece and the New York Knicks built a 22-point lead before holding off the Phoenix Suns.

Allan Houston added 16 points and Thomas grabbed 17 rebounds for the Knicks, who benefited from one of the worst games of the season by Suns rookie Amare Stoudemire. The 20-year-old phenom had just three points and six rebounds and missed three of four free throws.

Stephon Marbury had 31 points and nine assists and Shawn Marion scored 24 for the Suns, who were making the fourth stop on a five-game road trip.

CELTICS 91, MAGIC 83: At Boston, Paul Pierce had the first triple-double of his career with 27 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 13 assists to lead the Boston Celtics past the Orlando Magic.

The Magic were without NBA scoring leader Tracy McGrady, who stayed with his fiancee after she gave birth to a daughter Saturday night at an Orlando-area hospital.

Jeryl Sasser started in his place and scored a career-high 26 points with 10 rebounds, but Orlando dropped its second straight game after winning three in a row.

Boston also was missing a key player as Antoine Walker sat out his third straight game with a sprained right knee. Boston has won two of them and is 6-1 over its last seven.

BULLS 100, ROCKETS 98: At Chicago, Marcus Fizer grabbed a loose ball in the lane and scored with four-tenths of a second left as the Chicago Bulls beat Houston, extending the Rockets' losing streak to four games.

Jalen Rose scored 29 points, including 11 in the final quarter, and then batted away a final Houston lob pass to secure the Bulls' victory.

Steve Francis led the Rockets with 26 points, Cuttino Mobley had 19, and Yao Ming added 14 points and eight rebounds, two weeks before he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star game.

With the score tied at 98, Rose drove to the basket, lost the ball in the lane and Fizer retrieved it by outmuscling several Rocket players before throwing the ball in the basket.