The Brooklyn Nets are officially on the brink of elimination after losing Game 5 on Wednesday night.
But what a wild game it was.
Let’s break it down with some quick bullets:
• The Nets did exactly what they needed to do on the road, getting off to a great start. They were up 17-12. But Joe Johnson picked up his second foul, and by the end of the first quarter, the Nets were down 28-25. Two 3-pointers by Kyle Lowry capped a 10-2 run to close the quarter. Lowry was just getting started.
• The Nets were up 40-36 with 5:26 left in the second quarter. That’s when things fell apart. The Raptors closed the quarter on a 26-4 run. How is that even possible? Toronto shot 7-for-10 from the field during that stretch -- including 3-for-4 from 3-point range and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. Brooklyn shot 1-for-6 from the field. Deron Williams and Paul Pierce both played that entire stretch. Williams was 0-for-1 with two turnovers. Lowry had 13 points -- including that ridiculous halftime buzzer-beater. Lowry outscored Williams 21-3 in the first half.
• While most of the Nets seemed to be playing with little fire as the Raptors’ lead ballooned to 26, Johnson never gave up. He scored 18 points in the third quarter on 8-for-11 shooting. He was in attack mode, getting into the paint and exploiting double-teams. That’s how you respond following a seven-point, seven-shot performance in Game 4. Brooklyn shot 11-for-17 in the frame but managed to lose the third by four points because Toronto shot 11-for-19 and the Nets had six turnovers.
• The fourth quarter was crazy. The Nets, playing a lineup of Williams (10 points), Johnson (eight points), Mirza Teletovic (10 points), Andray Blatche (seven points) and Alan Anderson (10 points), came all the way back from 26 down to tie the game. Williams finally began attacking after looking to facilitate -- without much success -- through the first three quarters. Brooklyn outscored Toronto 44-24, shooting 13-for-21 from the field, 5-for-9 from beyond the arc and 13-for-15 from the free throw line. The Raptors went 6-for-16 from the field and 3-for-8 from 3-point range but 9-for-10 from the free throw line.
• How about that floater Lowry hit with 27 seconds left? How tough a shot was that? He got by Williams but still had to float the ball over two big defenders inside. Pretty darn impressive.
• The Nets did not lose because of Blatche's errant pass to Williams on their final possession. Shaun Livingston looked like he may have gotten fouled as he tried to grab the ball off Blatche’s missed free throw. Blatche got the ball in the corner, Lowry ran at him and jumped, likely because he thought Blatche was going to shoot. Blatche ended up air-mailing the pass. It was costly, no doubt. But they didn’t lose the game because of that single play. For more, revert back to the end of the second quarter.
• Can’t blame Nets coach Jason Kidd for not playing Pierce (minus-31 in 24 minutes) or Kevin Garnett (minus-15 in 12 minutes) in the fourth quarter. The two of them had a combined plus-minus rating of minus-46. That’s not good. Not good at all for two players the Nets surrendered three first-round picks to get. Williams was a minus-8 on the night. Johnson was a plus-22. Blatche was a plus-15. Teletovic was a plus-31. Staggering small-sample sizes.
• Brooklyn has yet to play a complete game. Will it before the season ends? The Nets always seem to have that one quarter or stretch that dooms them. If they end up losing this series, they’ll look back at those fourth-quarter leads they had in Games 2 and 4. They needed to close out at least one of those games.
• The Nets shot 53.3 percent, went 11-for-23 from 3-point range (after going 22-for-88 in the previous four games) and scored 44 points in the fourth quarter. And they lost. Go figure. The most expensive team in NBA history is now just one loss from its season ending in abysmal fashion.