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Vintage Vince Carter leads Sacramento Kings past Cleveland Cavaliers

By
Chace Bryson, The Sports Xchange

Call it the Vince Carter Game.

That's how Sacramento fans will remember his 24-point performance Wednesday in the Kings' improbable 109-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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It undoubtedly wasn't the first time the 40-year-old guard has taken over a game in his 19-year career -- but it was his first with the Kings.

Carter, who missed the team's previous three games -- two by coach's decision and one as a result of rib pain -- received multiple standing ovations from the Golden 1 Center crowd. He finished 10 of 12 from the field and had big-time shots to answer almost every time Cleveland tried to cut into the lead.

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Carter had seven points and two key assists in the fourth quarter as Sacramento held off a Cavs team that took its first back-to-back losses since snapping a four-game skid on Nov. 3. Cleveland All-Star LeBron James finished with a triple-double of 16 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

The Kings got a bit of revenge for a Dec. 6 loss at Cleveland in which the Cavaliers (25-11) outscored Sacramento 28-17 in the fourth quarter to win by six.

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Sacramento (12-22) took an 85-80 lead into the fourth quarter Wednesday after Carter sank a 3-pointer from the corner off of an inbounds play with 1.3 seconds to go in the third. The Kings pushed the lead to as high as 14, leading 101-87 with 5:38 to go in the game -- on another 3-pointer from Carter.

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Cleveland, which trailed by as much 13 in the first half, opened the second half on a 12-2 run to grab its first lead since the first quarter. The flurry came on four 3-pointers, two each from Kevin Love (21 points) and J.R. Smith (15 points) -- with assists from James on all four.

Love, who was coming off a Christmas Day effort at Golden State where he scored 31 points on a season-high six 3-pointers and added a season-high 18 rebounds, scored 11 in the first quarter Wednesday to help push Cleveland out to early leads of 12-4 and 23-18. However, the Kings finished the quarter on top 28-27 after rookie guard Bogdan Bogdanovich sank a buzzer-beating 20-footer from the right wing.

Inspired by the play of Carter, the Kings pushed their lead out to as much as 13 in the second quarter. Carter, whose nine points in the first half gave him a season high, sank a long 3-pointer to put Sacramento up 60-47 with 3:35 left in the first half.

It was an incredibly balanced first-half effort for the Kings. Sacramento coach Dave Joerger played 10 players in the half, and nine of them scored. Seven of those players scored at least six points as the team shot 57 percent from the field and 47 percent (7 of 15) from beyond the arc.

Cleveland also had nine players mark the scoring column in the first half while shooting 46 percent from the field.

NOTES: Kings G Malachi Richardson and rookie G Frank Mason III started for the first time in their career. The duo became the 12th and 13th different player to earn a start for Dave Joerger's club this season. They each scored four points. ... Wednesday's matchup featured four of the 11 active players with at least 18,000 career points: Cleveland's LeBron James (29,689) and Dwyane Wade (21,648) and Sacramento's Vince Carter (24,612) and Zach Randolph (18,187).

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