No DeMar DeRozan, no problem for the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors went into Brooklyn Monday night to take on the the Nets in an Atlantic Division battle, but they would have to do it without their leading scorer in DeRozan. With their star player out, Kyle Lowry took it upon himself to lead his team and after his performance Monday night, he should have all but cemented his spot on this year's all-star team.
The two teams battled back in forth in the first half, essentially trading baskets. Nets point guard Deron Williams looked to be back to his former self, while Lowry was trying to outdo the former all-star. With time winding down in the first half, Nets guard Alan Anderson hit a three pointer to give the Nets a two point lead. However, Lowry received the inbound and unleashed a shot behind half court before the buzzer. Based on what kind of night it was for Lowry it only made sense that it went in. And it did. A three at the buzzer giving the Raptors a one-point lead and giving Lowry at 20 points in the half.
The third quarter was much the same as the teams both scored 25 points to keep the Raptors' lead at one. In the fourth quarter, the game was still close but Nets forward Paul Pierce started to take over. He hit three pointer after three pointer and it looked as if he was going to send the Raptors back to Toronto with a loss. But the Raptors didn't give up. They continued to trim the deficit with Lowry and big man Jonas Valanciunas leading the charge.
With less than 30 seconds left, the Raptors trailed by one but stole the ball and headed down the court. Lowry drove the ball to the basket and looked to have drawn a foul. However, the referee signaled an offensive foul, indicating that Nets guard Deron Williams had position. A questionable call to say the least that furiated Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey. With there being 20 seconds left, the Raptors had to foul the Nets to try to extend the game at the free throw line. Paul Pierce would hit both free throws for the Nets and made it a three point game. The Raptors called a timeout to advance the ball and then John Salmons drove quickly in the lane for the layup, reducing the Nets' lead back to one with 12 seconds to play.
Leading by one, the Nets called their final timeout to advance the ball to half-court. It looked as if they were going to inbound the ball, make two more free throws and force the Raptors to make a three pointer at the buzzer for the tie. But that wasn't the case.
Have a look for yourself at the crazy ending in Brooklyn, which led to the Raptors stunning everyone at the Barclay Center. Most who saw the game probably heard the Raptors' broadcast. Here is the Nets' broadcast for the final 12 seconds of play.
The team credits the scouting staff for drawing up two plays for the Raptors to defend – one of them being a pass to the backcourt in which Patterson stole. The Raptors did a great job in coverage and Patterson showed his clutch ability by maintaining composure to hit the game-winning shot.
Lowry led the Raptors with 31 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals. He was 10-18 from the floor, 4-7 from three point land and 7-8 from the free throw line. And to top it all off, he drew three offensive fouls (two charges) against the Nets, adding to his league-lead. Lowry's passion, intensity and drive to win was contagious throughout the entire team Monday night.
Paul Pierce had a season-high 33 points for the Nets as he hit seven three's. He was only one of three Nets players to score in double-figures and only one of two starters. Joe Johnson was the other starter in double-figures with 12 points on 3-10 shooting.
The Raptors move to 23-21 with the win and are two and a half games ahead of the Nets for the Atlantic Division lead. They have won three of their last four games and currently hold a 2-1 series lead over the Nets.
The Nets fall to 20-23 with the loss and see their five-game winning streak come to an end. They are now 10-2 in the month of January with both of their losses coming against the Raptors.
Points By Quarter
Here are some more notes from the game:
- Jonas Valanciunas picked up his team-leading 15th double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Valanciunas was 9-14 from the field and the Nets had no answer for him inside. He also showed his maturity by not getting pulled into the trash talking with Nets forward Kevin Garnett.
- With DeMar DeRozan out of the lineup with an ankle injury, the Raptors called on Steve Novak to fill his spot in the starting rotation. Novak, a normally sure-handed shooter, had a rough night going 0-5 for zero points.
- Two nights after tying a franchise-record of 51 points, Raptors guard Terrence Ross came back down to earth. He didn't have a bad game by any means, but he surely didn't come close to matching his previous performance. Ross finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds and really went to work on the defensive end.
- Patrick Patterson scored 15 points off the bench for the Raptors. Patterson, who broke his nose on Saturday, started the game wearing a mask but quickly took it off after missing a few jump shots. The decision to take the mask off paid dividends for Patterson and the Raptors, especially late in the game.
- Andray Blatche had 20 points off the bench for the Nets on 8-11 shooting. He also added six rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot.
- Shaun Livingston got the start again for the Nets with Deron Williams coming off the bench. Livingston finished the game with nine points and four assists and one has to wonder how much longer he will start now that Williams if finally healthy.
NEXT GAME: Wednesday, January 29 vs. Orlando Magic. 7 pm. ET
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