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Nets let chance to take charge of series slip away as Raptors even series

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm •  Published: April 22, 2014

TORONTO — Paul Pierce lined up the shot, squared his feet and jumped. Pierce was ready to send another arrow through the soul of Raptors fans, for the second time in as many games.

But this time, instead of gasps at Air Canada Centre, the building filled with roars. Pierce’s dagger shot missed along with the Nets’ chance to seize control.

This is now a series.

The Raptors beat the Nets, 100-95, on Tuesday night in Game 2 of this first-round Eastern Conference playoff series, which stands tied at 1-1. Game 3 is set for Friday night at Barclays Center.

DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 30 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter. Joe Johnson had 18 for the Nets, but only two in the fourth.

Pierce scored six of his seven points in the fourth quarter — on two three-point plays — after starting the game 0-for-6 from the field. But with the Nets down, 92-90, Pierce missed a wide-open, go-ahead three from the left corner to effectively end Brooklyn’s chances to get out of Toronto with a 2-0 lead.

Kevin Garnett tied the game at 85 on a dunk with about three minutes remaining, setting up a frenetic finish — one in which the Nets kept digging themselves out of holes.

With 2:10 remaining, DeRozan nailed a tough, fadeaway jumper — his second consecutive clutch jumper — to give the Raptors a 89-85 lead and send the arena into euphoria.

The Raptors led, 92-87, with 1:10 remaining. But Pierce drove and converted a three-point play to narrow the gap to 92-90. From there, DeRozan lost the ball out of bounds, setting up a Nets possession for them to tie or take the lead in the final minute. But Pierce’s three-pointer was wide, and DeRozan made six of six free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal the win.

Before Tuesday’s game, the talk in Toronto was about the Raptors getting the short end of the stick from the referees in Game 1. The Nets weren’t called for a foul in the final fourth quarter of the series opener.

The Nets understood the city’s frustration — after all this is the Raptors’ first playoff appearance since 2008.

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