Apr 25, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson (7) looks to drive around Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) during the fourth quarter in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Brooklyn Nets won 102-98. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn Nets 102 - Toronto Raptors 98: SO CLOSE

Apr 25, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche (0) drives between Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) and forward Amir Johnson (15) during the fourth quarter in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Brooklyn Nets won 102-98. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 25, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche (0) drives between Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) and forward Amir Johnson (15) during the fourth quarter in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Brooklyn Nets won 102-98. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors were nearly out of time, and very short on points. The Brooklyn Nets had forged a 15-point lead with superior shooting and fierce defense, and were just over five minutes away from taking a 2-1 playoff series lead. Yet the Raps wouldn’t go away, and created a brilliant comeback. Receiving the balanced scoring which had been so sorely lacking all game, the Raps got baskets from Patrick Patterson, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry. A DeRozan bucket-&-1 narrowed the margin to a single point. After being fouled contesting a rebound, Patterson stepped to the line with a chance to tie. Both free throws hit back iron, and the Nets retained possession. The Raps fouled perforce, but the Nets didn’t miss, and escaped with the win. 

Toronto got out of the gate quickly, and were able to ride their early momentum to a 4-point lead after Q1. The Nets backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson were once again heading their scoring, but DeMar was attacking the basket with success, and Lowry had 7 points.

The Raptors went into vapour lock late in Q2, allowing a 12-1 Nets run. Coach Dwane Casey called a time-out, belatedly, and our guys were able to get 4 unanswered points before intermission, so the deficit was a manageable 4. The third quarter was a back and forth affair, until the Nets scored the last 6 points to lead by 11.

Patterson’s failure at the line was all the more bitter because he was a large part of the out-of-nowhere comeback, scoring 10 of his 17 points in Q4. DeMar was closely guarded all night (no surprise), but though his jumper wasn’t right, his attacks saw him get to the line 15 times, hitting 13. He had a game-high 30 points, and added 5 assists. Jonas had his third straight double-double with exactly 10 each of boards and points.

Those who believe the NBA has instructed its refs to aid the Nets’ cause certainly had fresh evidence to bolster their case. JV’s third foul was a travesty. He was shoved by Kevin Garnett into Paul Pierce, who went flying – so JV was whistled.

With 20 seconds remaining, Kyle Lowry fouled out when his lower lip made contact with Shaun Livingston’s elbow. The fact our man was bleeding offered, I suppose, prima facie evidence of his guilt.

DeMar DeRozan picked off a casual Pierce pass, then raced in for the layup. He was assaulted en route by Deron Williams, and the call was initially a Flagrant-One. Upon review, the foul magically was downgraded to a regular 2-shotter (meaning the Raps didn’t get the ball back after the free throws, nor was Williams in danger of being tossed should he commit a second Flagrant-One). Did the crew chief remind his colleague of which side his bread is buttered during the bogus review?

Greivis Vasquez was a double victim of bad (or worse than that – “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”) refereeing. He was whistled for a phantom block with 47 seconds to play, then was T-ed up for mildly grumbling. If you believe “ball don’t lie”, your mysticism got support; Williams missed both free throws for the foul call, though he did hit the tech shot.

The Raps can take solace in their second straight 30+ point fourth quarter. Is Toronto’s pace wearing down the Brooklyn veterans? We may find out on Sunday night, when the Raps get another crack at them.

 

 

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