Vince Carter was a noisemaker on New Year?s Eve. The Nets expect him to be a playmaker to start 2009. "He?s going off," backup center Josh Boone said. "That?s all you need to know."
Carter went off in Wednesday?s 83-75 loss at Detroit, but in a different way than the Nets hope he does when they host the red-hot Atlanta Hawks tonight.
He was ejected for arguing an out-of-bounds call and became incensed when he thought referee Derrick Stafford called him "boy," according to sources and reporters on the end of the court where the incident occurred.
Carter had to be restrained by coach Lawrence Frank and Devin Harris after Stafford, who like Carter is African-American, tossed the Nets? shooting guard.
The Nets hope they got to Carter before he said anything to warrant league action. An NBA spokesman said the league would review the incident that resulted in Carter?s second-career ejection. Carter was hit with two technical fouls in a three-second span, hurting the Nets? chances of finishing 2008 with a .500 mark.
The Carter drama adds to a situation that has become a soap opera for the Nets: their play at home.
The Nets have lost seven of eight games at Izod Center and five were by at least 11 points. They play a Hawks team that has won nine of 10. The loss was a three-point defeat to reigning champion Boston. So a driven Carter would be a welcome sight for the Nets in this one.
"I?m sure he?ll be fired up," Harris said. "We need a home win. I know he?s going to look forward to getting back on the court, especially in 2009."
Behind rookie Brook Lopez?s 24 points and 12 rebounds, the Nets showed resilience by coming back from 16 points down in the second period and 15 down in the fourth to make it a three-point game late against the Pistons.
It was somewhat surprising because of the venue and the absence of Carter?s 22.7 points per game. Then again the Nets have been road warriors this season and nearly lived up to that moniker again Wednesday by playing with tremendous fight.
"We just need to transfer it over to that Izod Center," Harris said. "I think when things go astray on the road we tend to pull together a lot better on the road than we do at home. Why that is remains to be seen.