With 12 seconds remaining, the Toronto Raptors were down a point to the Brooklyn Nets. John Salmons had just hit a layup, so all the Nets had to do was in-bound the ball, absorb the inevitable foul, and make the free throws. Never leave an NBA game before the buzzer, folks – Patrick Patterson intercepted the pass, then took a pass from Kyle Lowry to swish a jumper with 6 seconds on the clock. The stunned Nets couldn’t respond, and fans at a sold-out Barclays Center were in shock. Toronto had just literally stolen a win.
This was a game of runs. The Raps started quickly, going up 18-13. Kyle and Terrence Ross were on fire, with Lowry 5 for his first 5 with 12 points. The Nets finished the quarter with a 13-2 run to end the 1st quarter up 26-25. By the middle of the tightly contested second quarter the Raptors and Nets were back-and-forthing the lead. It appeared as if the Raptors were going into halftime down, but on the inbound Kyle jacked up a three-quarter court prayer just before the buzzer which caught nothing but net to give the Raptors a 57-56 lead.
The 2nd half started as high octane and exciting as the 1st half. After the first 4 minutes of the 3rd quarter the Raptors were up 69 to 62 with truly inspired play from Kyle, already with 25 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. Unfortunately that is when the 3rd quarter started to turn the Nets way after a timeout by Jason Kidd. The timeout lead to a 9 to 0 run over a minute thirty seconds putting the Nets up 71 to 69. Kyle had to sit down with 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter with 4 fouls after a blocking foul that could have been called either way. Continuing with the back and forth flow of the game, the 3rd quarter ended with a two by Patterson.
The Raptors went into the 4th quarter with a 82 to 81 lead, good news for a team with one of the best 4th quarter defenses in the NBA. At the 7:50 mark, Jonas Valanciunas pulled down his 10th rebound giving him another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. At 1:56, Paul Pierce drove into the lane and met an airborne upright JV and drew a foul (would it have been called on Roy Hibbert?), and the Raps were down three. Vasquez made an easy lay-up courtesy of a great screen from Patterson. After making a steal, Kyle was called for the charge on a bang-bang play against Deron Williams with 19.8 seconds. That should have been the dagger, particularly after Pierce subsequently hit two free throws. Cue the storybook ending.
Pierce was in beast mode for Brooklyn, ending with 33 points, while Andre Blatche went inside to score 20. Kyle was huge for Toronto in every stat, while JV ended with 20 points and 13 boards. Steve Novak got the start in place of the injured DeMar DeRozan, but flopped, missing all 5 of his shots, and without a rebound. Terrence Ross was magic-free, scoring 10.
The Raptors are at home to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.