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.
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.
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.