CARTER DROPS 42 ON RAPTORS IN TORONTO
* The hits just kept coming for Toronto against Vince Carter.
There was the tap to former teammate Morris Peterson's chin in the second quarter. That was followed by a return slap by Peterson to Carter.
The Toronto Sun game report described the exchange this way: "Carter jokingly slapped Peterson, who was one of Carter's best friends in his six-plus years in Toronto. Peterson reached out and hit Carter with a slap to the face, resulting in his second technical and subsequent ejection - he'd just received a technical for arguing a non-call."
Toronto's Mike James told the Sun, "Vince tapped him on the chin, says something to him jokingly, Mo was like 'Hush up,' tapped him back and it so happened he was the only one who got caught, but it was a harmless tap. If Mo had really wanted to hit him, he wouldn't have given him that soft tap like he did."
The biggest hit was still to come. Carter and the Nets trailed 104-102 on what would be their final possession with seven seconds on the clock. Carter went for the win and hit a fallaway 26-footer for three to make it 105-104 with only one-tenth of a second left in the game.
Carter's three - with Jose Calderon in his face - found the net as the Toronto crowd of 18,935 fell into stunned silence. The score held at 105-104 as the red-hot New Jersey Nets (19-12) won for the 10th time in a row.
The game-winning three-pointer vaulted Carter's scoring total to 42 points, with 24 coming in a tense fourth quarter.
"Just another shot, just another game -- just kidding," said Carter, who was booed during introductions and every time he touched the ball, according to the Sun. "The atmosphere, the emotion, the hostility in the arena, it was a fun game to play in. It felt like Game 7 of the playoffs."
PEPPERS, PANTHERS PUMMEL GIANTS
* The Carolina Panthers (12-5) dominated the New York Giants yesterday 23-0 in the first-round of the NFL playoffs. Former Tar Heel Julius Peppers, the Panthers' 6-7, 283 pound left defensive end, was credited with two tackles, one sack (-9 yards) and one pass defensed in the game played at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
Peppers helped the Panthers defense limit Giants star running back Tiki Barber to just 69 yards on 16 touches (13 rushes, 3 receptions). The Giants offense, led by inexperienced QB Eli Manning, could only muster 132 yards on 35 plays and 17:15 time of possession.
The Panthers win over New York sets them up with a return trip to Chicago (11-5) on Sunday (4:30 p.m. ET, Fox). The Bears beat Carolina 13-3 in Chicago on November 20. The winner goes to the NFC Championship Game against Seattle or Washington.
During the regular-season schedule Peppers played in all 16 games with 50 tackles (38 solo), 10.5 sacks (-62 yards), 7 passes defensed and 2 forced fumbles.
NDIAYE JOINS NEW CLUB IN FRANCE
* Makhtar Ndiaye has been signed by Levallois Sporting Club (7-7, 8th-place) of France's second-division league (Pro B). Ndiaye had started this season, his eighth as a pro, in France with ASVEL Lyon on the first-division circuit (Pro A) and was released in November.
The former Tar Heel arrives in Paris to help his new team as a rebounder and to offer a physical presence around the basket. "I'm here to win the most possible matches, it is as simple as that," Ndiaye stated, according to a brief Q&A posted on the team's website. "I am here to merge into the group, to be a part of the puzzle. Only time will tell if I am the missing part or not."
OKULAJA OPTIMISTIC ON HIS RETURN
* Ademola Okulaja, still working his way back from a knee injury he suffered last year, informed Inside Carolina last week that he was able to begin practice sessions with his team in Germany -- RheinEnergie Cologne.
"First I have to learn and run the plays completely. Then begin playing 5-on-5 again. After that, I will be back on the court doing what I do best," Okulaja told IC via e-mail.
Okulaja currently stands at ninth in fan voting for the German League's North all-star squad. Former Tar Heel Henrik Rodl is the coach of first-place ALBA Berlin and is the leader to be the coach of the North all-stars.
The North's top three fan favorites include Rodl's ALBA Berlin players Jovo Stanojevic, Matej Mamic and Hollis Price (Oklahoma). Germany's Federal League All-Star Game is scheduled for January 28 in Cologne.
THIS MONTH'S BIRTHDAYS
- 1: Horace "Bones" McKinney (1919 - 1997)
- 1: Max Owens (28)
- 8: Jesse Holley (22)
- 8: John "Hook" Dillon (deceased)
- 12: Jennifer Thomas (25)
- 15: Jason Capel (26)
- 18: Julius Peppers (26)
- 18: Damion Grant (24)
- 18: Camille Little (21)
- 22: Lennie Rosenbluth (73)
- 23: Kenya McBee (23)
- 26: Vince Carter (29)
- 26: Nikita Bell (23)
- 28: Tony Shaver (52)
- 28: Wes Miller (23)