With his team trailing by a point with 7.2 seconds to play and Raptors guard Jose Calderon headed to the free-throw line, Nets coach Lawrence Frank gathered his players to deliver instructions.
If Calderon were to make only one of his two free throws, Frank wanted the Nets to push the ball up to Vince Carter, who had the hot hand Sunday. He was to take a 2-point shot to try to send the game into overtime. But Carter, a former star with Toronto who was booed throughout the game, would have none of it.
"I just told him I was going to win it," Carter said afterward. And he did.
Calderon missed his second free throw, and Jason Kidd grabbed the rebound and charged up the court. As he approached the 3-point line, he slipped a pass to Carter, who buried a shot with a tenth of a second remaining to give the Nets a spectacular 105-104 victory.
"Thank God I made it," said Carter, whose Nets had trailed by eight points with two minutes left and by six with a minute remaining. "The atmosphere, the emotion, the hostility in the arena, it was a fun game."
The shot quieted the 18,935 fans at Air Canada Center, prompted Kidd to vault onto Carter's shoulder, and, most important, gave the Nets their 10th straight victory to kick off a four-game trip. It is their longest winning streak since a 14-game run Jan. 25-Feb. 24 in 2004.
Carter finished with 42 points, including 24 in the fourth quarter. He also had a team-high 10 rebounds.
"To stick a dagger in their heart right when they thought they were going to win it, it don't get no better than that," Nets forward Lamond Murray said. "That's sweet revenge."
Kidd, who finished with 22 points and 15 assists, said Carter "has been off the charts."
"It just seemed like things were going against us," Kidd said. "We'd get back, but couldn't get over the hump, and then that shot at the end."
Afterward, Frank praised Carter.
"What a great ending," he said. "There aren't many guys who can do that."
The Nets entered the game as the NBA's hottest team, but the Raptors had also been among the league's best recent performers. Toronto opened the season by losing 15 of 16 games, but it had won five straight before playing the Nets. The Raptors have been led recently by forward Chris Bosh, who had 27 points and four blocks Sunday, and by point guard Mike James, who added 26 points and seven assists.
The Nets were sluggish at the start. Richard Jefferson left with back spasms after just two minutes, but he said he would be able to play Tuesday, when the Nets visit San Antonio.
Carter, meanwhile, launched air balls with his first two shots, a long 3-point attempt and a fadeaway jumper from about 10 feet.
The Nets had several defensive breakdowns, leading Frank to call two timeouts in the first six minutes of the game.
Calling the second timeout seemed to pay off. The Nets led, 29-23, after the first quarter, and Murray played well in place of Jefferson. He finished with 12 points and Nenad Krstic added 16 and eight rebounds for the Nets.
The second quarter belonged to Toronto. At one point, the Raptors went on a 19-5 run to take a seven-point lead. They led at halftime, 51-48.
But Toronto was dealt a blow just before the break.
On many nights, Carter can make the difference in a game with dunks, fadeaway shots and free-throw shooting. But Sunday, with time winding down in the first half, he added the playful tap to his repertory.