The Skinny: The Raptors shot lights out to start the game on a 14-2 run. Keith Bogans responded with a pair of three-pointers, and Joe Johnson followed with a three to cut the deficit to three. DeMar DeRozan scored 11 first-quarter points, and a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Rudy Gay gave Toronto a four-point lead after one.
A 7-0 Raptors’ run to start the second quarter increased the lead to double figures. Toronto then went on an 11-0 run to push the lead to 20. The Raptors outscored the Nets 27-12 in the quarter to take a 19-point lead at the break.
Brook Lopez had 12 early points to start the third quarter, but the Raptors were relentless. Deron Williams found his stroke from downtown, as back-to-back threes got the Nets back within 11. He scored 15 points in the quarter, as Toronto’s lead remained at 11 after three.
Andray Blatche scored five straight Brooklyn points to open the fourth quarter, closing the gap to six points. The Nets used free-throws to get back within two, but Gay converted a huge three-point play to put the Raptors back up five. DeRozan hit a huge three to increase the lead to eight. A three from D-Will then made it a four-point game. The teams traded buckets, and the Raptors led by five with 37.7 seconds remaining. D-Will missed a deep three, and DeRozan made a pair of free-throws at the other end. Johnson then drained a three, and Kyle Lowry missed both free-throws and the Nets had possession down four. Johnson air-balled a three, and that sealed the Nets losing fate.
High Scorers: DeRozan led all scorers with 36 points on 12-of-22 shooting. For the Nets, Williams led the way with 30 points on 11-of-20 from the field and had six assists.
Key Stats: The Nets struggled at the free-throw line, shooting 11-of-19 (58 percent)
Who Was Hot: Rudy Gay shot 10-of-19 from the outside for 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the double-double. Blatche gave the Nets great minutes off the bench, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbing eight boards.
Who Was Not: Lopez was ice cold out of the gate. He was one of his first seven from the field and finished 7-of-19 for 16 points. Joe Johnson was also cold, shooting 4-of-16 for 12 points.
Fun Fact: Former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani made his NBA debut against the Nets on Nov. 1, 2006. However, he was inactive in this one after an elbow injury ended his season early.
The Raptors are now 15-16 since acquiring Gay, but that doesn’t mean the Nets are off the hook for this bad loss, even though the team played well in the second half to makes things interesting late.
Lopez had just a terrible start to this game, though he picked it up in the third quarter. Without Bargnani or Jonas Valanciunas playing for Toronto, this was the type of game Lopez was supposed to dominate. But instead he turned in a lackluster performance.
The Raptors have now won five of their last six games and prevented a season sweep at the hands of the Nets.
With the loss, the Nets will officially be the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. With no hope up moving up further, don’t be surprised to see the likes of Williams, Lopez and Joe Johnson get some rest over the final stretch.
But after this tough loss, P.J. Carlesimo may opt to keep his same rotation to get his players prepared for what they will experience in the postseason. Plus it would be a confidence boost to win the final two games at home, even with two weaker teams coming to town.
Brooklyn (47-33) returns home for it final homestand starting Monday night against the Washington Wizards. The 7:30 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.