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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.

“We’re on the road, and this team Toronto has worked its way to have home-court advantage, and obviously they’re expecting calls and things to be a certain way at home,” Garnett said. “This is a different season. This is not the regular season, but I get it.”

But they weren’t exactly feeling bad about the way the game was called either.

“I’m not going to really get on the calls,” Pierce said. “I think we had a lot to do with everything that went on in the game. I thought we played well defensively, we were solid, we played without fouling. The refereeing is going to be what it is for both sides. … A lot of calls may not go your way, and we understand that as veterans, and you’ve got to be able to play through it.”

And in Game 2, things didn’t go well for the Nets early in the officiating front. Pierce picked up two quick fouls and was relegated to the bench. In the first half the Nets had 11 fouls called on them, as opposed to seven for the Raptors. And Garnett received a technical foul, seemingly for just raising his hands in the air.

But the Nets’ bigger problem was their shooting. They trailed by as many as 11 in the second quarter after shooting a dismal 37.5 percent from the field in the first half (15-of-40).

In the third quarter, however, the Nets got things turned around quickly. They outscored the Raptors, 27-19, thanks to 12 points from Johnson, and shot 9-of-17.

Johnson scored nine consecutive Brooklyn points during one stretch late in the quarter, quieting the crowd of 20,382 as the Nets took their first lead since the first quarter.

Brooklyn went into the fourth quarter with a 66-64 lead, and a chance to seize control of the series.


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