By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
NETS: 87 at RAPTORS: 93
This afternoon in Toronto, the Nets dug themselves a 20-point hole against a bad team, and couldn’t quite climb out of it.
The Nets made a furious run in the second half, with Deron Williams scoring 22 of his team-high 30 points, and got within two points at 77-75 midway through the fourth quarter.
However, the Nets came up badly empty on their next two possessions. Rudy Gay (26 points) stole a Deron Williams pass, and Williams compounded his mistake by fouling Gay as he laid it in on the other end. Then C.J. Watson committed a clear-path foul, and the Raptors got a Kyle Lowry free throw and a Rudy Gay jump shot out of that possession to go up 83-75. The Nets were never within three points of the lead again.
The Raptors definitely read the “transition defense” part of the scouting report, and built their early lead in part by running off of Net misses.
The Nets’ defense eventually tightened, but they still couldn’t contain DeMar DeRozan, who scored 36 points (12-22 FG) and hit a huge three-pointer against the shot clock with 2:18 left that pushed the Nets’ deficit back to eight.
While it’s probably not a good idea to read too much into a loss like this, Joe Johnson didn’t have one of his best games, scoring 12 points on 4-16 FG, and Brook Lopez missed his first six shots and had only 2 points in the first half (though he recovered to score 14 in the second half).
The Nets were playing from behind all game. The Raptors opened the game on a 14-2 run, and after the Nets got within one, Rudy Gay banked in a 30-footer at the first-quarter buzzer to start the pivotal 25-6 run that put the game just a little too far out of reach.
Meanwhile, the Knicks were beating the Pacers, 90-80, though it was already unlikely that the Pacers would lose their remaining games against Boston and Philadelphia. The Nets’ loss ends their chances of gaining the #3 seed, and locks them into the #4 seed, with a matchup against either the Atlanta Hawks or Chicago Bulls.
The Nets are at home tomorrow night against the Washington Wizards, in a game which is shaping up to be extended garbage time.