After dropping Game 1 at home, the No. 3 seed came back strong in Game 2 and defeated the Nets, 100-95, to even the series 1-1.
DeMar DeRozan was the star of the game, scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter and 30 on the night. This marked a major improvement over his 14-point showing on 3-of-13 shooting from Game 1.
Point guard Kyle Lowry also added a solid all-around performance with 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists while center Jonas Valanciunas came through with 15 points and 14 rebounds, his second straight double-double. This helped the Raptors overcome 21 total team turnovers and a miserable 2-of-16 night from three-point range in the win.
Of course, some lights-out shooting in the fourth quarter certainly helped, as John Schuhmann of NBA.com noted:
Raptors' 4th-quarter shot chart (plus 12-for-15 FT): pic.twitter.com/efa1BrWNyZ— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) April 23, 2014
As ESPN notes, this is likely just the start of a highly entertaining series:
The @Raptors take care of business in Game 2, beating the Nets 100-95. This series is just warming up.— ESPN (@espn) April 23, 2014
Joe Johnson led the way for Brooklyn with 18 points, followed by 15 points from Deron Williams. However, a poor shooting day (the Nets shot 44.2 percent on the night) and a 52-30 rebounding deficit doomed the Nets in this game.
For the second game in a row, the fans in Toronto brought an exciting atmosphere to the Air Canada Centre:
Unfortunately, the home team started off sluggishly and found themselves on the wrong end of an 8-1 deficit in a hurry. The Raptors eventually turned things around and went up 21-19 at the end of the first quarter, thanks in part to a poor shooting display by the Nets:
#Nets have missed nine of their last 10 shots. Deron Williams is 1-for-5.— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) April 23, 2014
The two teams continued to battle in the second quarter, but Toronto was able to go up double digits thanks in part to the play of Greivis Vasquez off the bench, as ESPN announcer Alvaro Martin noted:
Then again, the Nets had decent production from the bench, especially from Mirza Teletovic, according to Rod Boone of Newsday:
Mirza is warming up, has his stroke going. Is 4 for 7 (3 of 4 from downtown) and leads #Nets with 11 points. They trail 39-32.— Rod Boone (@rodboone) April 23, 2014
Toronto took a six-point lead into the half and had a lot to feel good about. Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun broke down the game plan going forward:
If Lowry wakes up, Raptors keep taking advantage of size advantage and Derozan stays solid, Nets will be in trouble.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) April 23, 2014
Wolstat's plan did not come to fruition, however, as Brooklyn needed fewer than three minutes to tie things up. Joe Johnson then took over for the Nets, scoring 12 points in the third quarter to give his side a 66-64 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.
Holly MacKenzie of Sportsnet gave the perspective of most Raptors fans at that moment:
Joe Johnson is a terror right now.— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) April 23, 2014
In the fourth quarter, DeRozan made his presence felt with this huge left-handed slam to cut the lead to one:
DeRozan beasting it with the left https://t.co/Q7yEKdYFBH— Dan Toman (@dantoman) April 23, 2014
He picked up his fifth foul with seven minutes remaining, however, earning him an immediate seat on the bench. He was so upset that he did not even join the team in the huddle at the next timeout:
DeMar DeRozan ignored the huddle and sat at the end of the Raptors bench during that last time out pic.twitter.com/9GZs4tKMtF— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 23, 2014
Upon his return, the All-Star came right back with two key shots to put his team up four with just over two minutes remaining. Paul Pierce (2-of-11 from the field) was then unable to make the same type of clutch shots he did in Game 1, and the Raptors hit their free throws to seal the five-point victory.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey thought that his team's lack of experience was the difference in Game 1, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York:
That is as much about it as anything with our guys. Our guys were focused, I thought they came in playing hard. [But] I thought there was so much hype with the playoffs, so much in the first playoff series, we were a little wild-eyed, bushy-tailed.
In Game 2. I know it will be different.
Casey's squad proved him right. The Raptors were more confident and finished off a quality victory to make this a best-of-five series.
The teams now head to Brooklyn for Game 3, which will take place on Friday, April 25, at the Barclays Center. After stealing Game 1 in Toronto, the Nets have home-court advantage for now, but this series is still far from over.
Brooklyn was one of the best home teams in the NBA in the second half of the year and will be tough to beat in the next two games. The Raptors need to build upon their performance in Game 2 if they hope to topple the Nets and move onto the Eastern Conference semifinals.
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