Playing through pain and remaining positive

carter250_011609.jpgEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Vince Carter is not in Shaquille O’Neal’s class.
 
You can take any way you want, but from a health standpoint Carter is much better off than his good friend Shaq. It could be that Carter is about 100-150 pounds lighter than Shaq.
 
“Yeah, or 200,” Carter joked.
 
The comparison came up today because Shaq takes some back-to-back games off to keep his body right.
 
“I’m on my way,” Carter said. “I’m on my way. I’m not quite 39, 40 or how ever old Shaq is.”
 
Shaq turns 37 in March. Carter will be 32 in less than two weeks. But the biggest thing is neither is playing their age. Shaq is playing his best ball in years, averaging 17.7 points and 9.0 rebounds and Carter has been terrific, despite being a little banged up.
 
He had a hip injury earlier in the week and hurt his ankle in Wednesday’s loss at Boston. He was 1-for-10 that night and 4-for-14 in Thursday’s loss to Portland, but Carter said it’s improved.
 
“It actually feels better today than it did the last two days,” Carter said.
 
The Nets hope he feels even better tomorrow when they try to avenge their 32-point loss to the Celtics at home. Carter wouldn’t blame his bad shooting on his injury, but it probably played a part.
 
It’s no secret when Carter plays well and hits big shots, the Nets have a much better chance to win. The Nets haven’t had big games from Carter and Devin Harris together in a while, but Harris has missed 3 games recently.
 
Maybe that changes tomorrow, especially if Carter feels better and Harris’ pride kicks in after he was outplayed the other night by Rajon Rondo.
 
They need this game, too. They’ve lost two straight and after playing Boston, they’re go to New Orleans, San Antonio, Memphis and Oklahoma City. So, this could turn into a long losing streak if the Nets aren’t careful.
 
But one good thing for the Nets has been Carter’s positive attitude through bad times and his desire to play through pain. He wants to play all 82 games.

“I pride myself on it,” Carter said. “That’s what I want to do, especially being one of the older guys and I see all these young guys falling down like flies.
 
“You always hope you can last. I try to play through some of the pain and injuries that I have. Sometimes [trainer] Timmy [Walsh] is like, ‘Hey, let’s be smart about it.’ I’m like I’m being smart. I want to go out there and play.
 
“I just try to take care of my body. It’s always a little luck out there. I’ve been fortunate.”
 
The Nets have been, too.
 
*****

Carter saw the U.S. Airways flight 1549 crash land into the Hudson River from his Weehawken bedroom window. Carter still was in awe today.
 
“It’s not something you expect to see out of your window,” he said. “I’m not one that’s looking out the window every day and the day I decide to there’s a plane landing in the Hudson. It was one of those things you never forget.”
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).

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