By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
The Toronto Raptors grew quite a lot in terms of playoff maturity, as they made all the big plays to outlast the Nets 100-95 in Game 2 on Tuesday night in Toronto. The series is now tied at 1-1 heading back to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Friday night.
The Raptors dominated in the first half, taking as much as an 11-point lead in the second quarter, at 35-24. The Nets battled back, led by Mirza Teletovic's back-to-back three-pointers to cut Toronto's lead to 45-39 at halftime.
The Nets came out strong in the third and make some big plays, such as Shaun Livingston blocking a DeMar DeRozan three, and running to the other end for a layup to cut Toronto's lead to 47-45. He hit another driving layup to tie the game at 47 with 9:32 left in the third.
Joe Johnson lit it up, and scored seven straight points, including a three and a couple of baskets, to make it 60-56 Brooklyn with 4:15 left in the third. The Nets maintained the lead the rest of the way and outscored Toronto 27-19 in the third to take a 66-64 lead into the fourth.
The fourth quarter was just like it was in the first game, with the Nets and Raptors trading the lead back and forth. The Raptors led 81-78 with 5:43 left when four of the Nets' starters, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, and Joe Johnson, joined Andrei Kirilenko, who had a great game, for the stretch run.
One difference was immediate soon after: the Raptors defense was a lot more aggressive than in the first game and was double-teaming the ballhandler. Despite this, Paul Pierce hit a clutch jumper, and he was fouled to make it a three-point play, to tie the game at 83 with 3:47 left.
Kyle Lowry made a jumper and Kevin Garnett responded with a dunk before DeMar DeRozan hit a couple of jumpers to make it 89-85 with just 2:10 left. Pierce got another three-point play to make it 92-90 Toronto with 59 seconds left. That was his last basket of the game, and Pierce shot just 2-for-6 down the stretch.
The Nets were down two, at 94-92, with 18 seconds remaining, when the Raptors had an inbounds pass in the front court. They drew the Nets towards halfcourt and Amir Johnson got by Deron Williams for a layup to make it 96-92. This play resembled one the Lakers ran last season, with Kobe Bryant going in alone from halfcourt for a game-winner in New Orleans.
Deron Williams hit a three to give the Nets a last gasp of hope as that made it 98-95 with seven seconds left. DeRozan hit a couple free throws after to seal the win.
Kevin Garnett said of the Raptors' 36 points in the fourth quarter, "That's too many points for anybody, preschool, little league, YMCA."
The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan, who had 30 points on 9-for-21 from the field and a stellar 12-for-14 from the free throw line, with 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Amir Johnson had 16 points on 8-for-10 from the field. Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Kyle Lowry had 14 points, Patrick Patterson had 12, and Greivis Vasquez had 11 points and 8 assists.
Joe Johnson led the way for the Nets with 18 points on 7-for-13 from the field and 1-for-4 on three-pointers. Deron Williams had 15 points on a tough 5-for-15 from the field overall and 2-6 on three-pointers on his way to 15 points along with 5 assists. Mirza Teletovic provided a spark of offense, as he had 14 points (5-11 FG, 3-6 on 3-pt) off the bench in 23 minutes. Andrei Kirilenko, who did not play in Game 1, stepped up and played a strong 20 minutes off the bench, with 4 points, 4 steals, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist.
The Raptors did an amazing job shutting down Paul Pierce, who was held to 7 points on 2-for-11 shooting and 0-for-6 from behind the arc. Pierce also had 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Pierce said after Game 2 of being clutch, "It's just in the DNA. Everybody don't have it. Everybody's not born with it. You can't buy it at Costco or Walgreen's. It's in there. There's nothing I can do to let it go. I can't lose it, I can't break. I mean, it's in there."
Mason Plumlee was also bottled up, as he only took two shot attempts, making one of them, and finished with 4 points and 6 rebounds. Also not a factor in this game were Andray Blatche, who played just 8 minutes and had 5 points, and Marcus Thornton, who was scoreless in 5 minutes.