The Brooklyn Nets dropped their first game of the new year, falling to the Toronto Raptors 96-80 Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. As a result, their season-high, five-game winning streak came to an end.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Nets (15-22) didn't arrive in Toronto until after 4 a.m. Saturday morning following their thrilling double-overtime victory over the Miami Heat late Friday night. So it came as no surprise when they ran out of gas late in the second half of a back-to-back. It was the first time they lost since coach Jason Kidd decided to stop wearing ties.
The Nets did manage to take a 10-point lead, but an 18-0 Raptors run bridging the third and fourth quarters and a 9-minute, 1-second field goal drought (0-for-13 during that stretch) was too much to overcome. The Nets went just 6-for-21 from the field in the fourth quarter and were outscored 28-16.
The Raptors (18-17) are 12-5 since the Rudy Gay trade. DeMar DeRozan had 26 points to lead them. Four other Raptors finished in double digits. They grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and hit 11 3-pointers, shooting just 40.5 percent overall to Brooklyn's 40 percent.
WHERE THINGS CHANGED: Paul Pierce checked out at the 4:31 mark of the third with the Nets ahead 60-50. By the time Pierce checked back in with 9:18 remaining in the fourth, the Nets were down 72-64. It proved to be a difficult balancing act for coach Jason Kidd, who had to weigh going for the win against making sure his veteran players weren't run into the ground.
Pierce had 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 31 minutes. Joe Johnson went 4-for-13 and finished with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes. Shaun Livingston, fresh off playing a career-high 51 minutes Friday night, logged 31 minutes and went 3-for-11 from the field.
KG SITS: Kevin Garnett, who played a season-high 36 minutes Friday night, got a rest day. That meant the Nets started their 17th different lineup this season; rookie Mason Plumlee made his first career start in Garnett's place.
OUCH: Mirza Teletovic suffered a cut near his left eye in the third quarter when he was struck by DeRozan's elbow as DeRozan was attempting a shot. Teletovic got a Band-Aid and stayed in the game.
UP-AND-DOWN: The Nets were sluggish earlier, and got down by 13. But they trailed just 47-42 at the half. And then they came out like gangbusters in the third quarter, ripping off an 18-3 run to take a 60-50 lead. It didn't last. The Raptors countered with a 16-2 run of their own and took a 68-64 advantage into the fourth. DeRozan accounted for Toronto's final 10 points of the third. The Nets are now 2-20 when trailing after three quarters.
BEER BALL: In the second quarter, the ball got deflected into the court-side seats and hit a couple of beers, which spilled onto the court. The ball got soaked. The referees had to wipe it down.
DRAKE NIGHT: Rapper Drake, who does in fact hail from Canada, is the Raptors' global brand ambassador. Maybe one day he will have the impact Jay Z did briefly on the Nets. In the meantime, he wore a neat blazer with a retro Raptors Vince Carter jersey underneath.
UP NEXT: The Nets are London-bound. They won't practice again until Tuesday.