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Huge Raptors Comeback Falls Just Short In Brooklyn

The Toronto Raptors found themselves in Brooklyn brawl against the Nets at the Barclays Center and after a good first quarter, it was a fight they were slowly and steadily losing to the more experienced home team, but Head Coach Dwane Casey knows his players will never give up. This game came down to execution in the dying seconds once again.

“I love our resolve,” Casey said. “That’s the one thing about this young team. They never give up. They never give in. They fight through everything. There were some tough calls down the stretch, they could have mailed it in and they didn’t and that’s what I love about this team.”

The Nets had built a 15 point lead with just over 4 minutes left to go in the game when Casey’s players kicked it into high gear with an 18-4 run to bring the game to within a point. When Andray Blatche fouled Patrick Patterson going after a Shaun Livingston missed free throw with just 19 seconds left, the Raptors had their chance to tie the game.

Patterson had already scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and was shooting 6-7 from the field for 17 points in the game when he stepped to the line, but he missed both free throws and after Toronto fouled to get the ball back, the Nets made theirs to seal the victory 102-98.

“I missed them,” Patterson said. “First big free throws I’ve ever missed in my life like that.”

The Raptors shot 57.9 percent from the field and scored 32 points in the fourth quarter and held the Nets to just 30.8 percent shooting, but it wasn’t enough. This game got away from the Raptors in the middle two quarters, primarily because of the Nets 14 points on 12 Raptors turnovers over that stretch.

“The difference in the game was turnovers,” Casey said. “We got to meet their physicality. We got to understand how the officials are calling the game and play accordingly. I just thought 19 turnovers – a lot of those were us getting knocked off our mark and we just got to be stronger with the ball or play the way they are playing – bumping and hitting in those situations. So things are correctable, but I love the fight from my team.”

The Raptors player taking the most abuse from the Nets in this game and throughout the series so far has been Terrence Ross. Ross is averaging 1 made shot per game, shooting 16.7 percent from the field and scoring just 2.5 points. Perhaps worse, he has turned the ball over 6 times so far and just can’t stay in front of his own man. The Nets have been running up big leads while Ross has been playing. The Nets were +15 points while Ross was on the court in game three.

“(Ross) struggled,” Casey said. “He just struggled. He had three turnovers. He played the way I figured he was going to play. They got into him. He just struggled getting off his mark. Believe me (though), Terrence is going to be okay.”

Kyle Lowry was hobbled for much of this game with a sore knee and had to quickly go the bench for repairs when was given a foul because his lip interfered with Livingston’s elbow near the end of the game.

“(Lowry) banged knees,” Casey explained. “He got a sore knee. He got a big knock on his knee, knock on his elbow, busted his lip, so he’s been in a 15-round bout, but he is going to be okay.”

DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points for the second game in row, but only shot 2-7 in the fourth quarter. In this very physical game, 13 of DeRozan’s points came from the line.

Jonas Valanciunas recorded his third postseason double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but he only had 4 shots as the Nets did their best to deny him the ball.

Joe Johnson continues to give the Raptors fits and he had his best game of the series on Friday with 29 points on 11-17 shooting. Casey went to Landry Fields and John Salmons to add some size to his defense on the wing, but Johnson wasn’t going to be stopped. Deron Williams had 22 points and Paul Pierce added 18 points, but both disappeared in the fourth quarter and it was left to Johnson to carry the load.

Game four goes on Sunday at 7 pm in the Barclays Center. The Nets lead the series 2 games to 1.


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.


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