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Saturday, 5 May, 2001, 08:27 GMT 09:27 UK
Carter inspires Toronto triumph
Latrell Sprewell wrestles with Jerome Williams
Sprewell wrestles with Jerome Williams
Click here for Friday's NBA result

The Toronto Raptors defeated the New York Knicks 93-89 to come back from 2-1 down in the Eastern Conference play-off and complete their first-ever play-off series win.

The Raptors, who face the top-ranked Philadelphia Sixers in the Conference semi-finals, ended the Knicks' record of reaching the later stages of the play-offs for the past nine years.

Vince Carter, dubbed the "Air Apparent" as a potential successor to the Michael Jordan, lived up to his superstar billing.

The Sydney Olympic gold medal winner grabbed six rebounds, handed out three assists and made two steals besides scoring 27 points.


There were times when I felt I had to carry the load for our team. It was on my shoulders
  Latrell Sprewell

Carter said: "This was the happiest day of my NBA career. When the buzzer sounded, I thought, it's finally over. The monkey is off our back."

The Raptors outworked the Knicks and outscored them in each of the first three quarters to lead by 11 points going into the fourth quarter.

New York mounted a fierce comeback, clawing back to within two points, but Toronto held them off for their first taste of play-off success.

Alvin Williams contributed 18 points, while Antonio Davis pulled down 12 rebounds and scored 14 points.

Indeed, a key feature of the Raptors' success was their rebound success, as they outscored the Knicks 17-7 on a second-chance points.

Latrell Sprewell scored 29 points for the Knicks, but it was something of a one-man show..

Upstarts

He said: "There were times when I felt I had to carry the load for our team. It was on my shoulders.

"I left it all out there on the floor and I'm exhausted right now. I don't know if everybody left it all out on the floor."

The Raptors' win is further evidence of a shift in the balance of power in the NBA.

They followed the lead of the upstart Dallas Mavericks, who eliminated perennial play-off power Utah Jazz on Thursday.

Vince Carter and Latrell Sprewell
Carter won his duel with Sprewell

Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said: "We have some young teams with a lot of talent.

A year or two ago I said that a lot of guys were talking about the young guys in this league. Give them time. Let these young people mature and you are going to have some outstanding young players in the league."

The Raptors advance to the Eastern Conference semi-finals, where they will meet top seeds the Philadelphia 76ers in the best-of-seven series starting in Philadelphia on Sunday.

They will be hopeful of further extending their post-season odyssey, as they beat the Sixers three out of four times this season.

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Friday's result:

Eastern Conference

New York Knicks 89-93 Toronto Raptors (Toronto win series 3-2)

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