SACRAMENTO (California) • Call it the Vince Carter Game.
That is how Sacramento fans will remember his 24-point performance on Wednesday in the Kings' improbable 109-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It was not the first time the 40-year-old guard has taken over a game in his 19-year National Basketball Association (NBA) career, but it was his first with the Kings.
Carter, who missed the team's previous three games - two by the coach's decision and one as a result of rib pain - received multiple standing ovations from the Golden 1 Centre crowd.
He finished 10 of 12 from the field and had big-time shots to answer almost every time the visitors tried to cut into the lead.
His 24 points were the most he has since his 24 last March as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. Fellow reserve Willie Cauley-Stein added 17 points and nine rebounds.
"I mean, he made some bombs," Cleveland superstar LeBron James said of Carter, who is the first NBA player over the age of 40 to score 20-plus points off the bench.
"He's a Hall of Famer for a reason. Let's not take that for granted.
"Once he got going, we couldn't slow him down."
2007Wednesday was the first time that Vince Carter outscored LeBron James since Dec 14, 2007, when he was with the Nets. James had outscored him in their last 20 meetings.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, 40, who faced Carter during his playing days, added: "He's always been a guy, big stage, big moment, that's been his time to shine."
Carter equalled his season-high points total (nine) by half-time, but he saved his biggest moments for late in the game.
The eight-time NBA All-Star had seven points and two key assists in the fourth quarter, as Sacramento held off a Cavs team who suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since snapping a four-game skid on Nov 3.
James had a triple-double of 16 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds while Kevin Love added 23 points.
But 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.
Sacramento (12-22) took an 85-80 lead into the fourth quarter after Carter sank a three-pointer from the corner off an inbounds play with 1.3 seconds to go in the third.
The Kings extended the lead to as high as 14, leading 101-87 with 5min 38sec to go in the game - on another three-pointer from Carter.
"Every night I prepare to play," Carter told The Sacramento Bee after logging 29min 40sec of playing time on the night - only the third time in 21 games that he had exceeded 20 minutes.
"It doesn't matter the minutes, I just prepare to play and prepare to go out there and do my job and tonight was no different."
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