The Vince Carter watch is on.
Actually, it has been since right before the trade deadline. Then, it was a matter of where he was getting traded. Now, it’s a matter of how he finishes off what could be his final season as a Net.
It would be disappointing if Carter doesn’t finish the season strong. This has been one of his better all-around seasons, particularly as a leader, facilitator, spotlight sharer, encourager, father figure, baby-sitter and teacher.
Now Carter has a chance to get the Nets into the playoffs when no one expected they would. It’s what Carter wanted and what’s driven him all season. It would be a fitting cap to his season, if not his career as a Net.
It’s time for him to seize the moment like he did in his first season with New Jersey, when he and Jason Kidd carried them to a 15-4 finish and playoff berth on the last day of the regular season.
Only 18 games remain after the Nets wasted a chance to catapult themselves into the eighth and final playoff spot in the East last night, blowing a 14-point third-quarter lead at Golden State.
The Nets have to try and rebound against Portland, ironically. It was one of the teams that the Nets were talking to about Carter before the deadline. This could have been his first game against his old team.
The Blazers have won 12 of their last 13 home games so tomorrow is going to be a tough one for the Nets, probably the toughest one on the trip and it got even more difficult after they let a victory slip away last night.
The Nets needed Carter to do more. They need everyone, but at this time you always look to your leaders and best players.
Foul trouble hampered him and for the first time his body language wasn’t that positive.
Carter was surprised and frustrated by foul calls and that definitely had an impact. But he’s got to withstand that, show that nothing bothers him. He’s the captain, the true leader on the Nets, and they needed him to be better.
Carter hit three field goals in the first 9:23 and didn’t hit another until 47 seconds were left in the game. In that time, he missed some layups, but for the most part they were jumpers.
Carter, and the rest of the Nets, should have attacked the basket more.
The Warriors lead the NBA in blocks, but for the most part their porous defensively. They also allow the most points in the NBA. Talk about an oxymoron. Get in the lane, get fouled and get points from the line.
Carter only took two foul shots on the night and they didn’t come until about six minutes remained in the game.
When Carter struggled a couple of weeks back, it was revealed his right elbow injury was much worse than he was letting on. He injured his knee Sunday against the Knicks, but said before the Nets left for the trip that he was fine and after last night’s game that he’s fine.
Maybe it’s worse, too, but last night looked more like Carter was frustrated and ultimately out of it, which the Nets can’t afford.
They’re tied for 10th, one-half game out of the playoffs and one-game up on the Knicks and Pacers. So there is plenty of time as it seems this race will come down to the wire.
The Nets’ best chance of making the postseason is if Carter starts taking over games like few can. We haven’t seen that happen in a long time. Devin Harris has done it and it’s been effective. But when Carter does it, the Nets usually are tough to beat.
This is the time. Everyone is watching and waiting for Carter to stand up.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)