TORONTO — When Vince Carter left the court for a substitution with 11 seconds remaining in Sunday’s game, the former Raptors star received a standing ovation in what may have been his final game in Toronto.
Carter, 40, started for the first time this season for the Sacramento Kings and scored four points in 25 minutes in the 108-93 loss to the Raptors.
“I still love being here and there’s nothing like it,” Carter said.
Kings coach Dave Joerger said, “Hopefully it is not the last time. Hopefully, he’ll play another 10 years, but it’s always special for him to come up here.”
There has been speculation that Carter will end up with the Raptors again.
“Whether it’s a one-day (contract) or something, it’ll happen,” he said. “It’s supposed to happen, I think. I can say that now. I’ve had a lot of people say it’s supposed to happen so now I guess I have to believe it.”
Carter is impressed with the Raptors.
“I think we had a chance in the game,” he said. “They stepped up their defensive pressure but never got out of character. That’s a playoff basketball team. That’s what good playoff basketball teams do.”
DeMar DeRozan led a balanced Toronto offense with 21 points as the Raptors (20-8) defeated the Kings (9-20) for the second time in a week. The teams played last Sunday in Sacramento.
Kyle Lowry scored 16 points and added seven assists and five rebounds for the Raptors, who have won nine of their past 10 games and are 11-1 at the Air Canada Centre.
Lowry said he hopes that it was not the last game in Toronto for Carter.
“Vince, his number will be retired,” Lowry said. “The guy I’ve always looked up to, respected and someone who has earned the right to have his jersey retired in this arena. I tip my hat to the guy who pretty much changed the game of basketball for a whole country.”
Norman Powell contributed 14 points off the bench for Toronto while Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. OG Anunoby scored 11 points and C.J. Miles had 10.
“I was excited to see the second unit play well,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “They played as well as they have played in a while, being home is different. I thought Norm (Powell) came in and gave us a boost with his shooting. The second unit was really on time, on target defensively.”
“We knew it was coming eventually,” DeRozan said. “That’s the great thing about having a bench like we have.”
Garrett Temple and Bogdan Bogdanovic led Sacramento with 18 points each while George Hill scored 16 points and Willie Cauley-Stein 12.
The Raptors led by six points after three quarters and increased the lead to 12 when Powell and Delon Wright opened the fourth quarter with 3-pointers.
DeRozan made one of two free throws with 4:04 to play and Toronto led by 10 points. He completed the scoring in the game with two more free throws after being fouled by Carter.
The Raptors led 35-30 after the first quarter.
“It was a high-scoring affair in the first half,” Joerger said. “We made a lot of shots, they made some shots. They evened their game out by getting to the foul line a lot more than we did. ... The game got away from us a little bit in the third quarter with some turnovers, but I also have to give them a lot of credit, their second unit came in with a lot of energy defensively, pushed us around the court, pressured some catches ... and kind of got us out of our rhythm.”
The Kings crept to within one point with 5:49 left in the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Bogdanovic.
The Raptors quickly pulled out to a six-point advantage before the Kings came back to tie it on a 3-pointer by Hill with two minutes left in the first half.
DeRozan gave Toronto a one-point lead on his jumper with 1.5 seconds to play in the half, but Hill gave Sacramento a 63-61 lead on a half-court 3-pointer that beat the buzzer.
Miles hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 4:38 to play in the third quarter to give Toronto a 71-68 lead.
The Raptors led 83-77 after three quarters.
NOTES: Kings rookie PG De’Aaron Fox (bruised right thigh) missed a game for the first time this season. Fox was injured in the first quarter Thursday in the loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kings F Zach Randolph (rest) also did not play Sunday. ... Raptors F Serge Ibaka (sore left knee) did not play Sunday, but F/G C.J. Miles (sore left shoulder), who missed the win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, started a game for the first time this season on Sunday. ... Kings G/F Vince Carter, a former Raptors star, made his first start of the season Sunday. He finished with four points and received a standing ovation when he was replaced late in the game. ... The Kings will visit the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday and the Raptors visit the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.