The Skinny: The Nets started the game with the same lineup as the previous two games with Reggie Evans starting at power forward in place of Kris Humphries. The start of the game was sluggish for the Nets as they turned the ball over on three of their first five possessions and had six turnovers total in the opening quarter which allowed the Raptors easy buckets inside. The Raptors had eight assists on their first eight baskets of the game. Ed Davis had 10 points and five rebounds while Jonas Valanciunas was active in the middle with 9 points for the Raptors. Deron Williams led the Nets with 5 points and quickly the Nets were behind 27-20 after one quarter.
Avery Johnson began second quarter with Mirza Teletovic in for Evans to try and get some offense flowing along with the normal second unit other than Joe Johnson. The Raptors rarely had to run an offensive set as the Nets were giving the ball away for fast break dunks with 10 turnovers in the first 17 minutes of the game. Teletovic could not hit a shot so Johnson went deeper to the bench and had Keith Bogans come in for the turnover prone MarShon Brooks while Williams re-entered for Teletovic. The Raptors went zone and increased the lead to as many as ten points at 39-29 late in the second. Valanciunas had 13 first half points for the Raptors. The Nets never put together a significant run and shot a morbid 36 percent while turning it over 11 times to fall behind the 45-37 at half.
Joe Johnson started the third with a 3-pointer from Williams and the Nets looked to be a bit more energized. The Raptors immediately countered with more Nets turnovers to stretch the lead to 11 points and once again the Nets looked stagnant. Johnson hit his second 3-pointer of the game midway through the quarter to bring the Nets to within five points. The Nets went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to three behind better defense and more intensity. C.J. Watson entered the game and hit a pair of threes along with Johnson's two threes to make it 63-60 Nets and it seemed the wheels came off for Toronto from that point on. The Nets hit 6 out of 8 three pointers in the third and took the lead for good outscoring the Raptors 31-19 in the quarter.
The fourth quarter started the same as the third with Johnson hitting a 3-pointer to extend the Nets lead to seven. Johnson got into a groove early in the period and the Nets began to run their offense through him. The Nets then ran off a run of 20-7 during a six minute stretch midway through the fourth to extend the lead to fifteen. The game got a bit sloppy after the lead was pushed to fifteen and the Nets didn't finish the game well with stagnant ball movement late but did post a much needed win 94-88.
High Scorers: Joe Johnson broke out of his shooting slump to score 23 points and go 7-for-14 from two point range and a much needed 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Johnson added four rebounds and two assists to his total. Ed Davis had a career night for the Raptors with 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds and added three steals.
Key Stats: Nets shot 9-14 from field and 6-8 from 3 point range in the third quarter to take the lead and would never relinquish it from there.
Who Was Hot: C.J. Watson broke out to score 16 points off the bench with a 4-for-7 night from the field and went 4-for-4 from 3-point range. Watson added six rebounds, three assists and two steals to fill out his impressive stat line.
Who Was Not: Demar DeRozan could not get on track and shot 5 for 13 from the field to go along with 4 rebounds and 3 turnovers. DeRozan has been a Nets nemesis for years now but could not get into a groove tonight.
Fun Fact: The Nets and the Raptors had played 66 games going into tonight and were 33-33 in those games until the Nets pulled this game out to now take the series lead by one.
This game was sloppy to say the least from the Nets standpoint with what was at stake. They turned it over at an alarming rate against a not-so-dominate Raptors defensive unit. The Nets shot 36 percent in that first half to go with 11 turnovers and didn't look like they would come out of this funk and grab a winnable game.
The Nets got a few three pointers to go down in the second half after going 1-for-8 in the first half. The Nets ended the game with a solid 10-for-19 from deep. Once the shots started to fall in the third the Nets defense stepped up and the energy came back and the pressure clearly affected the Raptors from that point on.
This was an important win for the Nets for many reasons but the most important one was to end the five game losing streak and show they could win without their big man Brook Lopez.
The Nets next game will be Friday night at 7:30 at Barclays Center against another struggling team in the Detroit Pistons.