Friday, April 25, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Nets 102, Raptors 98
By Mike Mazzeo
NEW YORK -- Make it 4,738 days.
They nearly blew a 15-point lead, but the Brooklyn Nets took care of business at home, extending the Toronto Raptors’ playoff road losing streak to 13 with a narrow 102-98 victory in Game 3 on Friday night at Barclays Center.
The Nets now lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series 2-1.
The Raptors have not won a road playoff game since May 6, 2001 -- hence 4,738 days since their last W.
Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri -- was in the arena, but nowhere to be found.
The Nets are now 24-4 in their past 28 games at their Brooklyn arena.
What it means: Teams that win Game 3 in a best-of-seven series tied at 1-1 win that series 76.8 percent of the time. Now, all the pressure is on the younger Raptors in Game 4. Granted, the Nets know they aren’t going away. This Toronto team is tough.
Deron Williams, who came in shooting just 37.1 percent in the series, exploded for 22 points on 7-for-14 shooting, far outplaying counterpart Kyle Lowry. Williams also had eight assists. He also went 2-for-5 from the free throw line in the final minute, which helped the Raptors to nearly complete a miracle comeback.
Joe Johnson continued his consistent ways, adding a game-high 29 points. He had 24 points in Game 1 and 18 points in Game 2. Johnson hit the game-clinching free throws with 3.1 seconds remaining. Paul Pierce, who came in shooting 33.3 percent in the series, added 18 points on 5-for-9 shooting. Pierce knocked down a pair of huge free throws with 14.6 seconds left to put the Nets up 100-96.
Kevin Garnett, who was in foul trouble, had just two points, four rebounds and three assists. Shaun Livingston (three points, six rebounds, four assists) was also in foul trouble.
Andray Blatche scored 12 points off the bench in 18 minutes.
The Nets shot 49.3 percent from the field and outscored the Raptors in the paint 42-32.
The rebounding disparity wasn’t bad either: 97-67 in the first two games, but just 35-29 on Friday night.
The Raptors got 30 points from DeMar DeRozan for the second straight game. Lowry was limited to 15 points on 4-for-9 shooting. Jonas Valanciunas had just 10 points and 10 rebounds. Patrick Patterson had 17 points and hit three big 3-pointers. The Raptors committed 17 turnovers.
Three-man game: Johnson (10 points), Pierce (eight points) and Williams (four points, four assists) combined for 22 points in the third quarter as the Nets took a 77-66 lead into the fourth. The third started poorly for the Nets, as Livingston and Garnett both picked up their fourth fouls and were forced to the bench. Luckily, Johnson, Pierce and Williams took over offensively. Brooklyn closed the quarter on a 9-2 run and went 11-for-19 from the field in the frame. Lowry and Valanciunas would both pick up their fourth as well. Blatche (knee injury second quarter) had his best quarter of the series -- making a huge impact defensively.
Russia billionaire in da house: Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov attended his first game since Jan. 16 in London. He sat in his suite at center court with members of his ownership entourage. Prokhorov was antsy throughout the fourth. But somehow, someway, his team prevailed.
Up next: Game 4 on Sunday night in Brooklyn.