The last time these two teams met, a Deron Williams turnover in the final 11 seconds cost the Nets a surefire win at home, but this time in Brooklyn, the Nets vets came through big time down the stretch. Paul Pierce caught fire in the fourth quarter and Shaun Livingston made the game saving steal as Terrence Ross drove to the hoop with 22 seconds left and the Raptors trailing by one, 97-96. A game that was as close as it could be went down to the wire and ended 101-97 Nets.
“They are a veteran championship caliber team,” said Head Coach Dwane Casey. “They know the plays to make to win games and we still got to learn that.”
The Raptors got up early behind 12 first quarter points from Ross to lead 30-19 after 12 minutes, but that was all Toronto’s sophomore wing was going to produce on this night as the Nets shut him down the rest of the way. Almost equally frustrated was DeMar DeRozan who only hit one field goal after the first quarter and finished with just 14 points. The Raptors would have to look elsewhere for points on this night.
With an ineffective Paul Pierce sitting for most of the second quarter, it was former Raptors veteran wing Alan Anderson who led the Nets charge back with 8 points to go with his usual aggressive defense and the Nets turned the tables with 31 points of their own. This was a one-point game heading into the break.
The Nets seemed determined to take over this game midway through the third quarter using a 14 point run to take a 73-60 lead in less than 2.5 minutes, but almost as quickly as the Nets built it, the Raptors took it back and only a pair of no calls involving some aggressive play from Kyle Lowry prevented this game from being tied heading into the final frame.
Lowry was on a mission in the fourth quarter and almost dragged the rest of the Raptors roster into the winners’ circle with him as he scored 8 points and grabbed 4 rebounds with the game winding down. However, the formerly invisible Pierce came through with 10 big fourth quarter points including the clutch three-pointer with 1:14 left to go in the game that put the Nets up 97-94. Lowry missed a three-pointer with 10 seconds left that could have tied the game.
“Offensively, they made some big shots,” Casey said. “We had some crucial turnovers and again, playoff type basketball physically. We need to get ready to play that style. They got into us. We had three big time turnovers because they got into us at the end of the game.”
The Nets were missing Kevin Garnett because of his back and the Raptors didn’t have Patrick Patterson because of an elbow sprain. Tyler Hansbrough came off the bench in Patterson’s spot and scored 16 points, getting to the free throw line 10 times. Mason Plumlee had 6 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes as the Nets starting center.
Lowry led all scorers with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Amir Johnson had 16 points and 5 boards. The Raptors out rebounded the Nets 37-30.
Williams and Livingston led the Nets with 18 points each. The Nets 55 percent shooting from three-point range was the deciding factor in this game.
It was a disappointing loss for the Raptors who had a chance to build an almost insurmountable Atlantic Division lead with only 20 games remaining in the regular season for both teams. Toronto still leads Brooklyn by 3 games after tonight.
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High School Basketball Star Aquille Carr Is Back On Track
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