|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2014||[Print without images]|
TORONTO -- A frustrated Paul Pierce felt the Brooklyn Nets were "a soft team" on defense and in the paint during a 100-95 Game 2 loss Tuesday at Toronto.
But Kevin Garnett believes there will be nothing soft about the Brooklyn crowd when the Nets return to the Barclays Center for Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-seven first-round series.
"We know it's going to be a rowdy environment, like it should be," 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."
Garnett was referring to Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri shouting "F--- Brooklyn!" at a pep rally before Game 1 outside Air Canada Centre on Saturday. Ujiri was fined $25,000 by the NBA for the expletive.
|Kevin Garnett, defending Toronto's Amir Johnson with Paul Pierce, says he expects the Nets to play tougher in front of a "rowdy" Brooklyn crowd.|
Garnett hopes the home crowd makes things difficult for the Raptors in Game 3 on Friday.
"That's Kevin," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "He's his own man. He's been that way since he first came in the league.
"You gotta listen to what he's saying and not how he's saying it and keep playing basketball. He is who he is. That's what's made him a great player. But you still have to play the game, as I said. Whether it's Brooklyn or here in Toronto, you still have to play the game."
The Nets return to Brooklyn with home-court advantage after winning Game 1. However, they missed out on an opportunity to put Toronto on the ropes in Game 2.
Jason Kidd's team was up 69-64 with 11:20 remaining, but Toronto scored 36 points and made 12 of 16 shots (75 percent) in the fourth quarter. The Nets were also battered on the glass, outrebounded 52-30 by the younger and more athletic Raptors.
The Nets also couldn't contain DeMar DeRozan, who had 17 of his 30 points in the fourth.
"I thought guys stuck to their man individually for the most part and didn't help one another, and that is the big part of our defense," Pierce said. "Sink and shrinking the floor, locking down the paint ... too many touches for them in the paint, too many paint points, and we didn't rebound.
"We gave them everything they wanted -- 50 points in the paint,  offensive rebounds," Pierce added. "We were a soft team tonight."
Kidd said the team is excited about the prospects of playing in front of its home crowd with home-court advantage. The Nets won a franchise-record 15 straight games at Barclays from Feb. 3 to April 4.
"We are excited to be home," Kidd said on a conference call with reporters 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."
Despite all that, Pierce had a chance to stick another fourth-quarter dagger into the Raptors. With the Nets down 92-90, Pierce had a good look on a corner 3-pointer that missed with 24.9 seconds remaining.
On Saturday in Game 1, Pierce lifted the Nets to a 94-87 win by scoring nine straight points in the final three minutes. So it was no wonder the crowd gasped as Pierce launched the shot that could have put the Nets up late.
Pierce finished with just seven points and missed nine of his shots.
Still, the Nets left Toronto feeling like they accomplished their mission by taking home-court advantage.
"I don't think we played our best basketball," Garnett said. "But on the road, a hostile environment, still having a chance to win, I'll take it."