Brooklyn Nets: Brooklyn Nets

Raptors not worried about Brooklyn crowd

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
NEW YORK –- Masai Ujiri will be at Barclays for Game 3 in Brooklyn.

He could sit in the stands or move between the locker room and the tunnel -- something he sometimes does at games.

What kind of reception the Toronto Raptors and their general manager receive from the crowd, though, remains to be seen.

[+] EnlargeDeMar DeRozan
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank GunnDeMar DeRozan is not concerned about what Kevin Garnett has to say.
“I told him I wasn’t going to sit next to him or anything like that,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey cracked Thursday. “But he’s fine. He has seen a lot. He is going to be OK.”

Ujiri will likely be Public Enemy No. 1 on Friday night at Barclays Center. Ujiri made the now infamous “F--- Brooklyn!” rally cry to Raptors fans before Game 1 outside Air Canada Centre.

Kevin Garnett has spent the past couple of days planting the seed for Nets fans to come out and respond to Ujiri’s expletive and make the young and inexperienced Raptors as uncomfortable as possible.

Toronto knows what it's like to win a playoff game after taking Game 2. But now the Raptors must try to win a postseason game on the road.

“Again we are not a finished product,” Casey said after practice at Barclays Center. “We are young, still learning. A lot of guys are seeing a lot of first-time situations.

“Our guys have been pretty resilient on the road,” Casey added. “[They] have a resolve of being together in a hostile atmosphere.”

The Raptors were 22-19 on the road this season and won in places like Memphis, Oklahoma City and Brooklyn, 104-103 back on Jan. 27.

After the Nets dropped Game 2, Garnett said, “I don’t know if you can say ‘F Brooklyn’ and then come into Brooklyn. So we’re about to see what it’s like.”

The young Raptors didn’t take any issue with Garnett’s comments.

“I don’t care what he says honestly,” DeMar DeRozan said. “I don’t care. He’s been talking trash way before I’ve been in the league and he is going to talk trash when he is out of the league and I am out of the league. That’s him.”

When a reporter described Garnett as a bully to Kyle Lowry, the Raptors point guard disagreed.

“Ain’t no bullies in the NBA,” Lowry said. “I’m a grown man. I’m not going to be bullied. Everybody in the NBA are grown men. People aren’t going to be bullied.”

And if the Brooklyn crowd tries to bully the Raptors, Lowry thinks his team will respond just fine.

“I don’t think we are going to be intimidated by anybody,” Lowry said.

Nets rubbing it in, regarding the Knicks?

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
The NBA playoffs will take place only in Brooklyn this weekend.

Got that, New York Knicks fans?

The Brooklyn Nets made sure to italicize only in Brooklyn in a news release highlighting their plans for Games 3 and 4 this weekend at Barclays Center.

The team’s postseason slogan? “For Brooklyn.” As in: “One Pride. One Goal. One Dream. One Reason.”

Hmm ... Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri had another slogan involving “Brooklyn” and the letter “F.”

Anyway, the Nets are encouraging fans to arrive early and bring their Brooklyn chant to the two sold-out playoff games, which will take place on Friday and Sunday nights.

“Barclays Center is the place to be this weekend and we are expecting our fans to bring their passion and their Brooklyn Chant like never before,” Nets CEO Brett Yormark said in the release. “This series is sparking a great amount of conversation on social media and throughout the borough. We are particularly excited to showcase top Brooklyn entertainment on a national stage. Our goal is to give our team an intimidating home court advantage and deliver a great playoff experience ... FOR BROOKLYN.”

Notice the capital letters.

Also according to the release: "Some of the special Playoff entertainment will include the return of the NETSational Seniors, the Nets’ beloved dance team consisting of men and women ages 63-79; Brooklyn actor Michael K. Williams, who will introduce the Nets’ starting line-up; talented entertainers from Brooklyn, who will perform the Star-Spangled Banner; the Brooklyn Nets Beats drumline; and the Brooklyn Jumbies, an Afro-Caribbean dance stilt group. The Brooklynettes and the Brooklyn Nets Kids dance teams also will be performing.

"The Nets will be providing all fans in attendance with rally towels for Game 3 and with rally towels and Playoff branded shooting sleeves for Game 4."

KG: 'Eager to see' how Brooklyn fans act

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets center Kevin Garnett is eager to find out what the atmosphere will be like inside Barclays Center on Friday night.

“I’m very eager to see how [the fans] respond to ‘F-Brooklyn,’” said Garnett, who will make his home playoff debut with the Nets in Game 3 against the Toronto Raptors.

“I’m very eager to see how they respond to [Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri] sitting in our arena. ... We’ll see.”

The Nets compiled the third-best home record in the NBA after Jan. 1, going 22-4. During that stretch, they won a franchise-record 15 straight games at their Brooklyn arena.

“I’ve never had a series in Brooklyn before,” Garnett said “I never said ‘F-Brooklyn’ before, so we’re about to see what it’s like.”

The Nets announced Thursday that they will be providing all fans in attendance with rally towels for Game 3 and with rally towels and playoff branded shooting sleeves for Game 4. Brooklyn actor Michael K. Williams, from "The Wire" and “Boardwalk Empire,” will introduce the Nets’ starting lineup.

“I expect it to be a nice, ruckus, rowdy crowd, that’s what a lot of playoff crowds are about, they’re hungry for it,” said Paul Pierce, who, like Garnett, will be playing in his first playoff game at Barclays Center as a Net.

“They’ve been watching playoffs for about a week now, and now they get a chance to come into our home building and enjoy it and really try to give us a lift.”

Ujiri kicked off the series with his bang, when he yelled “F--- Brooklyn!” at a fan rally outside Air Canada Center prior to Game 1.

Ujiri has since apologized for his choice of words, though his distain for the Nets is well-known.
That distain appears to stem from when speculation swirled that the Nets tanked -- losing four of their last five regular-season games to set up a playoff matchup with the Atlantic Division-champion Raptors.

“I don’t know if you can say ‘F Brooklyn’ and then come into Brooklyn,” Garnett said Tuesday. “So we’re about to see what it’s like.”

For what it’s worth, the Raptors have lost 12 straight playoff games on the road -- the fifth-longest streak in NBA history. Toronto’s last road win? May 6, 2001 in Philadelphia.

“We feel we’ve got the best fans and we’ve been playing well at home, so we want to continue to do that,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said.

Jason Collins makes 'Time 100' list

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins was named one of Time Magazine’s "100 Most Influential People in the World."

“It’s a really prestigious honor,” Collins said. “I’m really thankful to the people at Time for putting me on the list.”

This season, Collins became the first openly gay player in NBA history.

“Like I said before, it’s a cool honor, but I know I’m not just doing this by myself,” he said. “There have been a lot of people who have helped me get to where I am, a lot of people who have made the path easier for me, and that’s the one thing I hope I’m doing for other people is making it easier for them to live their authentic life.”

Collins’ good friend Chelsea Clinton wrote the story that was featured in the magazine. The two met while at Stanford.

“It was really cool,” Collins said. “I texted her this morning and -- because obviously we talk every now and then -- and was like, ‘How did you [keep it a secret]?’ She kept it a secret from me. Although my sister-in-law, my brother’s wife, she did know, and my sister-in-law is good at keeping secrets as well.”

Collins said he didn’t find out about the honor until Thursday morning.

“Her words were very touching, and like I said, she’s a good friend, and before about a year ago, before all of this broke, I called her and asked for her advice on how to live your life in the public eye, and her words were a great piece of advice,” Collins said.

Collins was thankful to the entire Nets organization for allowing this to happen.

Nets coach Jason Kidd was happy for Collins. The two played together in New Jersey.

“It’s nice to know one of the Top 100,” Kidd said. “I know one of the Top 100 that is influential to our community and to our world.”

Kidd was instrumental in the Nets signing Collins, though he downplayed his role.

“I didn’t do anything,” Kidd said. “His basketball talent, his personality, if it wasn’t us, it was going to be someone else. So, again, we’re happy to have him on board just like we said from day one.”

Kidd: Garnett's minutes won't increase

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets center Kevin Garnett’s minutes will not increase drastically as the team’s first-round, Eastern Conference playoff series with the Toronto Raptors progresses, coach Jason Kidd said.

“His minutes are going to be around the same they’ve been all season,” Kidd said Thursday. “We’ve got quite a few guys at the five [Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche]. Again, he feels good, so the minutes could go up slightly, but not to where you guys would like to see.”

Garnett has played 39 minutes through the first two games of the series. During his time on the court, the Nets have outscored the Raptors by 17 points (90-73). During his time on the bench, Toronto has outscored Brooklyn by 15 points (114-99).

“I’m not in here talking about minutes, J-Kidd is the coach,” Garnett said. “If you want to talk about minutes, you talk it with him. I don’t put myself in and out the game. I feel OK, I feel strong enough to play and that's where we at.”

Garnett has not played more than 20 minutes in a game since Feb. 13. He has appeared in just seven games since returning from back spasms -- logging 13, 17, 18, 19, 15, 20 and 19 minutes in those games.

During the regular season, Garnett averaged 20.5 minutes per game.

• Starter Shaun Livingston missed Thursday’s practice due to illness, but Kidd says he’ll be ready to play on Friday. Livingston is averaging 11 points on 57.1 percent.

Brook Lopez, who is out for the season, got some jump shots up in practice. He is no longer wearing a boot, and only has a brace on his surgically-repaired left ankle.
The Nets set a franchise record with 15 straight wins at home earlier this month.

They hope Brooklyn fans will make the Barclays Center a hostile environment for the Raptors on Friday, when the Nets return for Game 3.

Nets coach Jason Kidd said the team is excited about the prospects of playing in front of its home crowd with home-court advantage and the best-of-seven series tied at 1-1.

"We are excited to be home," Kidd said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. "This is an opportunity to protect home. So we understand our crowd will be behind us. We have the best fans. We are excited to be home. Our job is to hold serve."

The Nets were unbreakable at Barclays from Feb. 3 to April 4, defeating the likes of San Antonio, Charlotte, Chicago, Memphis, Toronto and Houston -- all teams in the playoffs.

And Kevin Garnett would like to see Nets fans let the Raptors hear it for general manager Masai Ujiri’s now infamous “F--- Brooklyn!” pep rally cry to Toronto fans outside the Air Canada Centre before Game 1.

“We know it's going to be a rowdy environment, like it should be," Garnett said after the Raptors evened the series with a 100-95 Game 2 win. "I don't know if you can say 'F Brooklyn' and then come into Brooklyn. So we're about to see what it's like."

Even though the Nets feel like they let Game 2 get away after blowing a five-point lead by giving up 36 points to the Raptors in the final quarter, they also say they haven’t played their best game yet against Toronto.

“We don’t feel like we played our best basketball by any means,” Deron Williams said. “We stole one here which is what we hoped to do. We wanted to be greedy and get tonight as well. It didn’t happen, [so] now we got to go home and protect home court.”

Williams likes shooting at home. He averaged 49.3 percent shooting at Barclays. He’s not alone as far as feeling more comfortable at home.

Paul Pierce averaged 46.4 percent shooting at Barclays. Joe Johnson made 44.9 percent of his 3-pointers at home. The Nets shot 47.7 percent overall and 39.1 percent from behind the arc at home during the regular season.

So far through two games in Toronto -- albeit under the intensity of playoff basketball -- Williams has shot 37.1 percent from the field. Pierce made 33 percent from the field and just 18.2 percent from behind the arc in Toronto. Johnson shot only 20 percent from 3-point range at Air Canada Centre, too.

Overall the team shot 43.3 percent from the field and 22.9 percent from behind the arc in Canada.

So the Nets are looking forward to returning home in more ways than one.

Can Joe Johnson adjust to Fields' D?

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson, who had torched the Toronto Raptors for 24 points in Game 1, was having his way again in Game 2.

Johnson had just scored 12 points in the third quarter -- including a stretch of nine straight.

No Raptor had been able to contain him.

So Toronto coach Dwane Casey decided to put defensive specialist/offensive liability Landry Fields in.

Johnson played 6:18 in the fourth quarter -- and Fields guarded him every step of the way.

Johnson had just two points in the final period on 1-for-2 shooting, and the Raptors won 100-95, evening the best-of-seven, first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at 1-1.

Was Johnson surprised Fields came in?

“No, I wasn’t,” he replied.

Did Fields do anything special?

“No,” Johnson replied.

But they must’ve adjusted, no?

“I don't really think there was too much of a difference,” Johnson said. “They came and they trapped. Pretty much what they did in the second half of the first game, and sometimes they came, sometimes they didn't. So I just gotta be patient, take my time and get other guys involved.”

The Nets tried to get Johnson involved when they ran a pick-and-roll involving him and Deron Williams. But Brooklyn didn’t get the switch it wanted.

Williams passed the ball to Johnson, who was being defended by Fields near the 3-point arc on the left wing. Johnson elected to pull-up for the shot, but Fields blocked it with 5:18 left.

Johnson’s only basket against Field was off an out-of-bounds play in which Kevin Garnett picked Fields. The pick allowed Johnson to get Fields on his hip and he got a layup to go with 18.2 seconds left.

But that was it.

“He stopped Joe,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s the defensive stopper.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this matchup evolves. How will Johnson adjust?

Will Casey stick with Fields knowing how limited he is as an offensive player?

Game 3 is Friday night at Barclays Center.

Breakdown: Starters vs. bench

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
All season long, the Brooklyn Nets have been touting their depth -- and rightfully so.

But so far in these playoffs -- yes, it’s only been two games -- the Nets’ bench has underperformed.

Bottom line: The Nets have been a much better team when their starters are on the court.

Just look at some of these scoring breakdowns:

Paul Pierce:
61 minutes on-court: 130-103 Nets
35 minutes on-bench: 84-59 Raptors

Kevin Garnett::
39 minutes on-court: 90-73 Nets
57 minutes on-bench: 114-99 Raptors

Deron Williams:
74 minutes on-court: 158-133 Nets
22 minutes on-bench: 54-31 Raptors

Joe Johnson:
81 minutes on-court: 163-146 Nets
15 minutes on-bench: 41-26 Raptors

On-court plus/minus is a flawed stat, sure, but in this case it kind of tells the tale:
Paul Pierce: Plus-27
Deron Williams: Plus-25
Kevin Garnett: Plus-17
Joe Johnson: Plus-17

Mirza Teletovic: Minus-23
Marcus Thornton: Minus-19
Andray Blatche: Minus-16
Alan Anderson: Minus-14

Brooklyn’s bench overall: 169 minutes, 46 points, 38.3 percent shooting, 4-for-20 3-point range, 6-for-14 free-throw line.

This is something Nets coach Jason Kidd is going to have to weigh going forward.

Remember: All season long, Kidd has made sure his starters have gotten the proper rest -- too much rest, it could be argued.

But also remember: Kidd broke down last season, in his age 40 campaign, and was no longer an effective player by the playoffs. His veteran starters, to this point, seem fresh and have been really productive.

Which brings us to the great conundrum of the first half of the fourth quarter.

Kidd likes to bring his starters back around the six-minute mark.
Game 1:
Lineup: Shaun Livingston-Thornton-Johnson-Teletovic-Blatche
Time played: 5:35
Score: 11-6 Raptors (67-62 Nets to 73-73 tie)

Game 2:
Lineup: Livingston-Anderson-Andrei Kirilenko-Blatche/Mason Plumlee
Time played: 5:42
Score: 15-12 Raptors (66-64 Nets to 79-78 Raptors)

Kidd probably needs to pull his reserves earlier in the fourth quarter and go to his starters earlier -- or, at least, play more of them with the reserves during that span. What he’s trying to do makes sense -- in the regular season. Not so much in what are essentially must-win games. The Nets had a 69-64 lead in the fourth in Game 2 on Tuesday night. Going up 2-0 probably puts the series away. Instead, his first-half-of-the-fourth-quarter unit gave that lead up.

Yes, Pierce still had a chance to hit that 3-pointer late. Fine. But Brooklyn failed to gain a stranglehold of the series.

Starting Five: What we've learned so far

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
Nets/RaptorsDavid Cooper/Toronto Star/Getty ImagesThe Nets and Raptors have tangled for two games. So what have we learned?
Here’s what we’ve learned through the first two games of the Brooklyn Nets-Toronto Raptors first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Nets can’t rebound: OK. So we knew this already. It has been a problem all season. During the regular season, the Nets ranked next-to-last in rebounding differential (minus-4.8 per game). So far, it’s Raptors 97, Nets 67. Even for a team as bad at rebounding as Brooklyn, that’s awful. It’s not something that you can really expected to be corrected given that the Nets like to play small, but it’s certainly something that they can at least narrow the gap. That would be helpful, anyway. Ugly Game 2 stat, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information: The Raptors grabbed 50 percent of their missed shots Tuesday, which ties the highest offensive rebounding percentage the Nets have allowed in any game since April. 10, 2011 (also against the Raptors).

Brooklyn needs to make 3s: Eventually, they probably will. The Nets are 11-for-48 from 3-point range (22.9 percent). It’s not like they’ve taken bad shots; in fact, most of them were open. It’s just a matter of knocking them down. Brooklyn ranked 11th in 3-point accuracy during the regular season (36.9 percent). That’s a much more realistic number. Look for some sort of normalization here.

The first six minutes of the fourth are scary: That’s because Nets coach Jason Kidd likes to rely on his bench during this time. In Game 2, the reserves were minus-three over the first 5:42 of the final period. It’s important for the bench to somehow play even basketball while the starters sit. Fans would probably like for Kidd to go to his starting group a little earlier, but he has been doing this kind of thing all season.

Gotta go to Pierce: Paul Pierce played hero in Game 1, but couldn’t do so again in Game 2. Still, he’s the guy that has been taking the big shots for Brooklyn down the stretch. Given his prowess for delivering in the clutch, it’s really a no-brainer. Pierce’s seven-point performance on Tuesday night was just the eighth time in his playoff career (138 games) he has scored in single digits.

The Raptors turn the ball over a lot: So much for Dwane Casey’s plea to take care of the ball. Two games. Forty turnovers. Twenty-three Brooklyn steals. At least the Nets, true to who the are, are creating turnovers via steals.

Toronto found its Joe stopper: Joe Johnson had 24 points in Game 1 and had 16 through the first three quarters in Game , including 12 in the third. But then Casey put Landry Fields on Johnson, and Fields was able to neutralize him. Johnson had just two points in the fourth. Wonder if we’ll see more of Fields on Johnson as this series progresses. You’d certainly think so.

DeRozan turned things around: He was 3-for-13 from the field in Game 1. He scored 30 points -- 17 of them in the fourth quarter -- in Game 2. And this note from ESPN Stats & Information: DeRozan was 1-of-5 for two points with Johnson as his primary defender in Game 1, compared to 5-of-7 for 10 points in Game 2. And what exactly was up with the Nets giving up 75 percent shooting to the Raptors in the fourth quarter of Game 2? Not good.

JV a tough cover for KG: Jonas Valanciunas has racked up 32 points and 32 rebounds through the first two games of the series. That’s scary good. And not a good thing if you’re Kevin Garnett.

The D-Will vs. Lowry matchup is fun: Their numbers in Game 2 weren’t great, but these guys are fun to watch. Game 1 went to Deron Williams (24 points). Game 2 went to Kyle Lowry (14 points, nine rebounds, six assists). When they’ve been on, these guys have been huge difference-makers. But they’ve also been ineffective for stretches as well.

Kirilenko’s playing time a question mark: Andrei Kirilenko didn’t play in Game 1. He did play in Game 2, producing four points, four steals and three rebounds in 20 minutes. It’ll be interesting to see if and when Kidd decides to deploy Kirilenko for the rest of the series.

Question: The Nets seemed pretty happy with a split in Toronto. Are you happy with it? Let us know in the comments section below.

In case you missed it: Pierce called the Nets’ effort on the glass “soft,” while Garnett says you can’t say “F Brooklyn and then come into Brooklyn.” Plus Ohm Youngmisuk’s column on Pierce not being able to come up with the big shot two games in a row.

Lint rolling: Yeah, that was rapper Drake using that lint roller on his pants as the game was going on. Check out our blog.

Up next: The Nets and Raptors don’t play again until Friday night, when Game 3 tips off at Barclays Center.

TORONTO –- Paul Pierce might have felt like a fossil, sitting nearly 10 minutes from the late third quarter through much of the fourth due to foul trouble.

And despite the Nets’ virtually extinct defense in the fourth quarter, Pierce still had a packed Toronto crowd holding its collective breath with 24.9 seconds left.

The young Raptors were clinging to a two-point lead (and their season) when Pierce caught the ball in the corner by himself. He launched a 3-pointer as Raptors fans let out a gasp in hopes it would not be another fourth-quarter dagger piercing through their hearts.

Pierce’s clutch DNA, though, went missing in Game 2. The Raptors survived and evened the series at 1-1 with a 100-95 win. And the Nets let the Raptors off the hook.

Yes, the Nets left Canada with what they came for -- stealing a game and home-court advantage. But the Nets had a chance to choke the air out of the Raptors and seize control of the series.

[+] EnlargePaul Pierce
John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SportsThe Raptors blocked Brooklyn's attempt at gaining a 2-0 series lead in Game 2 on Tuesday in Toronto.
Not only did the Nets turn this into a series again, they literally stood and watched DeMar DeRozan go through his playoff baptism.

DeRozan, the head baby Raptor, matured quickly, scoring 30 points, with 17 coming in the fourth quarter. It was DeRozan the Nets absolutely didn’t want to see. And now DeRozan knows how to take over a playoff game. And the young, inexperienced Raptors know how to win a playoff game.

And the Nets know they have themselves to blame.

“Too many touches for them in the paint, too many paint points, and we didn’t rebound,” Pierce lamented. “We gave them everything they wanted, 50 points in the paint, and [19] offensive rebounds.

“We were a soft team tonight.”

Pierce knows the Nets let a prime chance to shorten this series slip away.

Despite Pierce being saddled with his fourth foul at the 3:36 mark of the third, the Nets opened a 69-64 lead with 11:20 remaining in the game.

The Raptors (21 turnovers) couldn’t stop turning the ball over like they did in Game 1. Kyle Lowry was having an off night, scoring just six points and missing 7 of 8 shots through three quarters. DeRozan had 13 points, and Jonas Valanciunas totaled 11 points and 11 rebounds entering the fourth -- all numbers the Nets could live with.

The game was there for the taking for the Nets. Instead, Brooklyn stopped playing defense. Jason Kidd watched his team surrender 36 points and 75 percent shooting (12-of-16 shooting) to the Raptors in the fourth quarter.

DeRozan looked like Vince Carter at times, soaring through the lane for a monster dunk early in the quarter, and the Raptors were off and scoring.

[+] EnlargeDeMar DeRozan
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank GunnThe Nets woke up a sleeping giant in DeMar DeRozan, who scored 30.
“You can’t have fourth quarters like that,” Kevin Garnett said. “Thirty-six points, that’s too many points for anybody -- preschool, little league, YMCA, Raptors. Too many points. Fourth quarters are supposed to be our best quarters defensively.”

Fortunately for Brooklyn, Toronto didn’t play much defense, either. Shortly after Pierce checked back into the game with 5:44 left, the Nets fell behind 83-78. But Andrei Kirilenko scored, then Pierce scored and was fouled. His three-point play tied the game at 83-83 with 3:48 left. Toronto fans had to think they were going to relive Game 1, when Pierce scored nine straight points in the final three minutes to steal the opener.

But Lowry nailed a pull-up jumper. Then DeRozan grew up before our very eyes, burying a 20-foot pull-up jumper and an 18-foot fadeaway over Joe Johnson. The Nets kept it close, but the Raptors answered every time. And Pierce (2-for-11 shooting, seven points) didn't have it this time.

And so now the series is tied 1-1, changing the narrative.

Entering Game 2, all the questions were about how the young Raptors would react after losing the first game and if they would be able to overcome the Nets’ enormous advantage in experience.

Now, the series shifts to Brooklyn, and the Raptors have tasted playoff victory.

Garnett knows the Nets haven’t played their best basketball yet.

But that didn't stop him from already beginning to plant the seed with the Brooklyn fans to create as hostile an environment as possible for Toronto.

“Now we’ve just got to take care of home,” Garnett said. “We know it’s going to be a rowdy environment, like it should be.

“I don’t know if you can say, ‘F Brooklyn,’ and then come into Brooklyn,” he added in reference to Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri’s now infamous pep-rally cry. “So we’re about to see what it’s like.”

The Raptors have seen what it’s like to win a playoff game. And that could be very dangerous for the Nets.

Rapid Reaction: Raptors 100, Nets 95

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22

Paul Pierce played hero in Game 1.

He had a chance to do it again in Game 2.

But this time, it was not meant to be.

Pierce missed a wide-open 3-pointer from the left wing with 24 seconds left that would’ve given the Brooklyn Nets the lead, and they fell to the Toronto Raptors 100-95 on Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.

The best-of-seven, first-round Eastern Conference playoff series is now tied at 1-1.

What it means: The Nets got the split they wanted on the road. They still have yet to play their best basketball. This game was there for taking, but this time they got out-executed down the stretch. The Nets shot 7-for-24 from 3-point range and 20-for-28 from the free throw line. In the first two games of the series, they are just 11-for-48 from downtown.

DeMar DeRozan, who was held to just 3-for-13 shooting in Game 1, erupted for 30 points -- 17 of them in the fourth quarter. DeRozan hit a couple of tough midrange jumpers to give the Raptors an 89-85 lead.

Kyle Lowry got the better of Deron Williams this time, scoring a couple of huge buckets late in the fourth. Lowry drove for a layup that put the Raptors ahead 91-87 with 1:25 remaining. Lowry finished with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Williams had 15 points and five assists on 5-for-15 shooting.

Joe Johnson scored 12 of his 18 points in the third quarter but was held to just two points in the fourth due to some fabulous defense by ex-New York Knick Landry Fields.

Typical Nets basketball: The Nets got killed on the glass, losing the rebounding battle 52-30. But they recorded 14 steals and the Raptors had 21 turnovers. Brooklyn turned the ball over only 10 times.

Dinosaurs: Kevin Garnett scored 13 points and pulled down four rebounds in 19 minutes but once again had a tough time inside against Jonas Valanciunas (15 points, 14 rebounds). Pierce was in foul trouble early on and didn’t register his first field goal until the 3:48 mark of the fourth. The Game 1 hero shot just 2-for-11 from the field and missed all six of his 3-point attempts.

Let’s call this the comeback: The Nets opened the third quarter on an extended 17-6 run to take a 56-53 lead. Johnson heated up in the third, at one point scoring nine consecutive points for his team. Brooklyn went 9-for-17 from the field in the period (52.9 percent). The Nets led 66-64 heading into the fourth.

Lucky to be alive: The Nets opened up 9-for-30 from the field (37.5 percent overall in the first two quarters) and fell behind by as many as 11. But they trailed just 45-39 at the half. Williams went 2-for-9 from the field in the opening 24 minutes. Mirza Teletovic had 11 huge points to keep Brooklyn afloat. Lowry was held without a field goal.

Cold as ice: The Nets jumped out to an 8-1 lead. They were up 9-4 when Pierce picked up his second foul. Then their offense went in the tank. They missed 10 of 11 shots as the Raptors countered with an extended 15-3 run. Toronto led 21-19 after one.

AK makes an appearance: Andrei Kirilenko, who was a DNP-coach’s decision in Game 1, entered in the second quarter. He had his usual impact, always being around the ball and creating havoc in one way or another.

Odd men out: Andray Blatche (eight minutes) and Marcus Thornton (five minutes) both played sparingly. Rookie Mason Plumlee logged 21 minutes.

More testiness:
Garnett picked up his second technical foul in as many games for taunting late in the second quarter. Then the pesty Lowry pushed Garnett early in the third and was hit with a T.

Lint-sanity: Rapper Drake was seen vigorously brushing something off his black pants with what appeared to be a lint brush while play was going on in the first quarter. Carrying around a lint brush just became cool. See the video here.

Up next: The series shifts to Barclays Center for Game 3 on Friday night.

Drake lint rolls pants during Game 2

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
Drake loves watching his Toronto Raptors, and apparently he likes looking clean while cheering on his favorite team.

The rapper who recorded "Started From The Bottom" was seen vigorously brushing his pants off with what appeared to be a lint roller while sitting in his courtside seats (see video above).

It didn't take long for the video to go viral.

Drake is a "global ambassador" for the Raptors brand. The team held a "Drake Night" earlier this season.

Pierce: Can't buy clutch at Costco

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
Paul PierceAP Photo/The Canadian Press/Chris YoungPaul Pierce loves taking the big shots. "I think it's just in the DNA," he said.
TORONTO –- Paul Pierce says his secret to being clutch is hidden deep in his DNA.

While he jokes that he may be a dinosaur, Pierce is serious about why he loves taking the big shots: His Dino DNA contains the clutch trait.

“I think it’s just in the DNA,” Pierce said Tuesday at Nets shootaround when asked why he loves the fourth quarter. “Everybody don’t have it. Everybody is not born with it. Can’t buy it at Costco or Walgreens. It’s in the DNA.”

Asked how he has sustained it through his 15 years as pro, Pierce replied, “Like I said, it’s in the DNA.

“There is nothing I can do to let it go. I can’t lose it. I can’t break it," he added. "I mean, it’s in there, it’s in there.”

The Nets hope that DNA reveals itself again in Game 2 against the Raptors on Tuesday night. Pierce lifted the Nets to a 94-87 win in Toronto on Saturday by scoring nine straight points in the final three minutes to steal Game 1.

He had missed six of his first eight shots and had just six points going into the fourth quarter. He finished with 15 points while silencing a raucous Toronto crowd.

“A lot of players shy away from the moment,” Kevin Garnett said. “Some [relish] it. He’s one of them. I think Paul looks to obviously see himself in a different light, and he comes out and plays like it.

“I’ve seen him do it countless times,” added Pierce’s former Celtics teammate. “I’ve seen him look for the moments more and more versus running from it. He wants it. He takes it on.”

Pierce, 36, joked that he was a dinosaur in reference to a Toronto newspaper headline that billed the first-round series as “RAPTORS VS. DINOSAURS” accompanied by a picture of the Nets’ two vets Pierce and Garnett.

Of course, Pierce and Garnett had the last laugh in Game 1. Pierce hopes he can add to his clutch résumé with another vintage "Truth" performance in Game 2.

He admits he has had the thirst to hit big shots since he was a freshman in high school.

“I think I was like in the ninth grade,” Pierce said, recalling his first big shot. “It was my first game winner. You always remember that first one. Ninth grade, junior varsity game. I think I won on a tip-in at the buzzer. Then just felt the drive.

“That was just the beginning,” Pierce added. “Once you get a taste of it, you enjoy those moments. [It] just grew and grew, and it manifested over the years.”

W2W4: Nets at Raptors, Game 2

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
The Brooklyn Nets will look to take a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Raptors in Game 2 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

Tough to be 2-0: Road teams that won Game 1 are 27-90 (.231) historically in Game 2s of NBA best-of-seven playoff series, according to The Nets have gone up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series only four times in franchise history. Adjustments are going to be the key in this game, which means the key matchup might just be between coaches Jason Kidd and Dwane Casey.

Tightening things up: The Nets won Game 1 despite going 4-for-24 from 3-point range. At one point, they missed 19 straight 3s. Brooklyn’s bench accounted for just 16 points and went 0-for-12 from deep. The Nets got outrebounded (as usual) by eight. Essentially, they didn’t play their best basketball, yet they won anyway. That’s a good sign. But they still need to get better.

Fossil fuel: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett made huge plays down the stretch in the opening game, enabling the Nets to emerge with the victory. Pierce had his way in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of his 15 points. He’s a tough cover for Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson. Garnett had trouble guarding Jonas Valanciunas (17 points, 18 rebounds), but did come up with a huge shot -- his only make of the game -- that gave Brooklyn a 79-76 lead over Toronto late in the final period.

Battle of the PGs: Deron Williams (24 points, plus-20) outplayed Kyle Lowry (22 points, minus-12) in Game 1. Williams was in attack mode early, scoring 11 points in the first quarter. Defensively, Lowry scored just four points in the fourth. If Williams can get the best of Lowry again, the Nets will most likely come out on the winning end in Game 2.

Things to wonder: How will the Raptors change their defensive coverages on Joe Johnson (24 points)? Can Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson contain DeMar DeRozan (3-for-13) again? Will Andrei Kirilenko play in Game 2 after being a DNP-coach’s decision in Game 1?

Starting five: Pick your poison

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
TORONTO –- Kevin Garnett knows you can’t take everything away from a team in a playoff series.

You’ll have to give something up. In the Brooklyn Nets’ case in Game 1, they surrendered 17 points and 18 rebounds to Jonas Valanciunas inside.

The Nets want to slow down the Toronto Raptors’ backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. They don’t want to let the young Raptors get going, whether it be on the break or from behind the 3-point arc. DeRozan shot just 3-of-13. He and Lowry combined for only eight points in the fourth quarter of Game 1.

However, Jason Kidd also doesn’t want to see Toronto’s big man put up a monster line again either.

“Well, I think it’s a fine line,” Kidd said of having to give up something defensively. “We want to make it tough on everyone. Being able to take away the 3 and then also protect our paint is something that we’ve got to do a better job at.”

Valanciunas, 21, made 7 of 13 shots and had two blocks in his playoff debut. He also committed six turnovers.

While Valanciunas may be in his first playoff series, he didn’t look like somebody who was going to let a crafty veteran like Garnett get in his head.

Valanciunas was asked if Garnett talks a lot on the court.

“No,” the Lithuanian said. “I don't understand English, so I’m OK.”

Valanciunas seems to have a pretty dry sense of humor. When asked if Garnett was a player he idolized when he was young, Valanciunas responded, “His last name is really famous, so I heard about him when I was a kid.”

Valanciunas might end up making a name for himself in this series if the Nets don’t find a way to slow him down.

Up now: Let the chess match begin. Both teams must make their adjustments from Game 1. And the Nets should expect the Raptors to bring an attitude adjustment.

Call him Joe Mismatch.

Masai Ujiri won’t have to pay big bucks for dropping that “F” bomb on Saturday.

Kidd didn’t extend Pierce’s minutes during the regular season and it’s paying off now.

The odds of the Nets stealing Game 2 aren’t so good.

Net fact: Pierce has played in a ton of playoff games, but he still had a long way to go on the all-time list. He will tie Dale Davis for 50th in NBA history with his 138th career playoff game on Tuesday night.

What’s next: Game 2 in Toronto tips off at 7:30 p.m.

Question of the day: If you’re Kidd, can you live with another big game by Valanciunas? Which poison are you picking when trying to shut down Toronto’s young talent?



Brook Lopez
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8