Toronto Raptors 100, Brooklyn Nets 95—Series tied, 1-1
The Toronto Raptors may not have the experience of the veteran Brooklyn Nets, but they managed the fourth quarter just fine on Tuesday. Toronto relied on 17 fourth-quarter points from guard DeMar DeRozan to squeak past the Nets late, 100-95.
Brooklyn looked to step on the Raptors' throats early, jumping out to an 8-1 lead as the Raptors went nearly four minutes without hitting a field goal from the outset.
Toronto rallied quickly, thanks to the bruising inside play of center Jonas Valanciunas, who scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in the first quarter.
Star Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry struggled in the first half, shooting 0-of-5 and committing three turnovers, but Toronto got a standout performance from his backup, Greivis Vasquez, with nine points, two assists and one steal.
The Nets were able to bring an 11-point deficit down to a more manageable six before halftime. Reserves Mirza Teletovic (11 points) and Andrei Kirilenko (four points, three steals) were big for Brooklyn, as most of the starters struggled.
The Nets reclaimed the lead in the third quarter thanks to a scalding-hot shooting performance from Joe Johnson, who scored 12 points in the frame. The Raptors, meanwhile, continued to wilt under Brooklyn's defensive pressure, with 17 turnovers in the first three quarters.
The fourth quarter was a tense, back-and-forth affair, with both teams trading impossible, body-blow buckets. DeRozan went to the bench with his fifth foul early in the quarter, but came out firing upon his return, with two clutch jumpers and a pass leading to a Lowry layup.
Nets forward Paul Pierce hit a pair of and-1 shots to help bring Brooklyn back, but missed a couple of three-pointers that could have turned the tide back in Brooklyn's favor. I guess he didn't stop by Walgreens to pick up a six-pack of clutch before the game.
Paul Pierce, Nets: 7 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST
Deron Williams, Nets: 15 PTS, 1 REB, 5 AST
Joe Johnson, Nets: 18 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST
Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors: 15 PTS, 14 REB
Kyle Lowry, Raptors: 14 PTS, 9 REB, 6 AST
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors: 30 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST
According to ESPN Stats & Info, DeRozan became just the fourth player in franchise history to score at least 30 points in a playoff game, joining Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Antonio Davis.
The series will shift to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Friday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Tuesday night's win was invaluable for Toronto, as it learned it can hang with Brooklyn late in games. Still, the Raptors must do a better job protecting the ball. They turned the ball over 40 times in the first two games of the series.
As for Brooklyn, it will need to find a way to keep the bigger Raptors off the offensive glass. Toronto killed the Nets on Tuesday with 19 offensive rebounds.