Nets get past Raptors by thinnest of margins in Game 7

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com


VIDEO: Nets hang on against Raptors in Game 7

TORONTO – Basketball can be a game of inches too.

The difference in the first round series between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors was the length of Paul Pierce‘s fingers, which reached up and blocked Kyle Lowry‘s shot as time expired in Game 7, sending Brooklyn to the conference semifinals with a nail-biting 104-103 victory.

Lowry had somehow squeezed between Deron Williams, Alan Anderson and Kevin Garnett, losing the ball on one side of the triple-team and recovering it on the other. With all the defense’s attention on him, he had somehow willed his way to the basket one final time.

“That young man,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said, “did everything he could to get to the basket.”

But …

“Sometimes, it’s about being at the right place,” Pierce said afterward, “at the right time.”

The cumulative score in 11 total games (regular season and playoffs) between these two teams was 1,070-1,070. It really doesn’t get any closer than that. Eight of the 11 games were within three points in the final three minutes. And the team that got its first Game 7 win since the Nets came to the NBA in 1976 was the team that barely hung on.

The Nets’ offense had been rolling through the Raptors over the last 2 1/2 games. They led by 11 early in the fourth quarter and by nine with less that four minutes to go. But they couldn’t stop the Raptors’ offense, which scored 30 points in the final period.

“We were right there,” Casey said.

Lowry was attacking. DeMar DeRozan was making something out of nothing. Patrick Patterson was rolling to the basket. The Nets committed a couple of dumb fouls and just couldn’t get a stop … until they absolutely had to.

“We might have bent a little bit,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said, “but we didn’t break.”

It took every last inch for the veteran team with the big names and the largest payroll in NBA history to get past the young guns who had never been here before. The Nets knew how hard it was and how good the Raptors are. Toronto’s division title was no fluke.

“This was a very difficult series,” Garnett said. “It tested everybody’s will here. If anything, I think we grew up a bit during this series.”

That says a lot about the Raptors, who face some questions this summer. The contracts of their coach (Casey) and best player (Lowry) expire at the end of June. But if those two guys are back, Toronto will be back in the playoffs, with an incredible crowd on their side again.

“This is one of the best environments in basketball,” Pierce said of the Air Canada Centre, “as far as the road crowd, the noise, the enthusiasm. This is as tough as it’s going to get. And to come in here in this type of building, the way they play and the way the crowd is, it’s so gratifying.”

The Raptors had the crowd, but the Nets had the matchups. And that’s more important in a playoff series. The Raptors just had no answer for Joe Johnson, who scored 26 points in the deciding game, half of them in the fourth quarter, repeatedly going one-on-one with whomever the Raptors threw at him.

In the fourth, that list included point guards (Greivis Vasquez) and big men (Patterson). Brooklyn’s final field goal of the series was a ridiculously tough runner by Johnson (against Terrence Ross) that gave them a seven-point lead with just over two minutes to go. Johnson played more than 45 minutes (a season-high for a regulation game) on Sunday, and the Nets needed all of it.

“For us to post him every time down, get him the ball where he’s the focal point, for him to make plays,” Kidd said, “he’s as good as they come down the stretch.”

The Nets played through Johnson all series, something that will be more difficult to do against the Miami Heat, who are bigger on the wings, in the conference semifinals, which begin Tuesday in Miami.

After grinding through a series that went down to the final play of Game 7, Brooklyn has just 48 hours to prepare for the defending champs. The Nets went 4-0 against the Heat in the regular season, but know that doesn’t matter now.

“We know we can beat them,” Johnson said. “But it’s going to be a lot different from the regular season.”

The Nets can take something on these last seven games, where it took every basket and every stop to separate them from the Raptors by the thinnest of margins. But it’s already time to move on.

The champs are waiting.

25 Comments

  1. Ken says:

    Basketball is a tough game to ref, no doubt, but I have great difficulty understanding why Deron W for the Nets was still on the floor at the end of game 7 and why Amir J for the Raptors exited with such a useless 6th. foul call. That should have been ruled a jump ball, no intent involved.
    Kevin G pulled a few high school actions out there, sad really! Why should we respect a win with that in it.
    How about Kidd covering his mouth up? Is he hiding something or just yelling so loudly to be heard?
    Also a technical on Demar near the end, that should not happen in play-off games, especially near the end of a game and only if there is something extraordinary is going on. That was a shock.
    Too much talking by both teams to the refs as well. That should not be allowed. Play the game on the floor.
    Great entertainment but the integrity of the game as a true sport is once again open to discussion and apparent disappointment by at least one side of the equation.
    I though Paul P and Joe Johnson were super. Kudos there. No arguments as to their talent and level of clutch play.

  2. okc2014 says:

    Sofa King: You and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Joe Johnson is a bum; gotta love Paul Peirce and Kevin Garnett

  3. Please explain says:

    In the past the NBA has given morning-after explanations / apologies for controversial calls. I think they owe the fans some explanations here. Not just on specific calls like KG getting a foul instead of Williams when it appeared from one side of the court that he didn’t touch Lowry at all, but also for the series as a whole. It really seemed there were games where all the fouls went in one team’s favour. And, after Kidd complained and took his fine, it appeared that the foul calls favoured Brooklyn. So, Mr. Silver, I know the refs have to get on with Round 2 now, but will you please put this on the officiating crew’s to do list for the near future. Thanks in advance, I knew you’d be more than willing to oblige.

  4. refs made bad calls says:

    The NBA and refs completely changed everything. Please stop this action Adam Silver. You are making everyone hate watching the games instead.

    The Nets should not be in the 2nd round. There were so many ridiculous calls against the Raptors. I don’t understand why the league made it so obvious to the audiences that games were not played in a fair manner. This is a shame.

    KG and PP are done as you can see that they can’t play at the same level anymore. Especially KG, he has no energy anymore but his dirty plays still work tho. DW is definitely not one of the top PG anymore. JJ will not have the easy shots anymore due to matchup issue with Toronto. Miami will be in full control so goodbye Nets. The money you spent only made you in the playoffs and the NBA already helped you advanced to the 2nd round. Good try for the highest paid salary team in the NBA!!!

  5. JJfan says:

    I’m sick of all these Raptor fans who keep blaming the Refs for their losses. It’s just pathetic that you have such a great fan base and then fans like these which just ruin it. Let me point out that if you read the box score, before the intentional fouls that the Raptors committed at the end of the game leading to those subsequent free throws, the RAPTORS (yes, the RAPTORS) had MORE fouls called for them and MORE free throw attempts than the Nets in the game. So no, the refs didn’t give the Nets all the calls. YOu guys had plenty of calls going your way. Secondly, that play with the block on one end and offensive foul on the other, was correctly made. Although both players were outside the restricted area, Raptors player slid his foot, making it a block while Blatche firmly planted to the ground, making it a charge. Last play of the game, no there was not a foul. They aren’t gonna call any whimpy thing on the final play of the game, and Pierce’s block was clean as the hand is part of the ball when you go up like that and he hit ALL ball before touching Lowry’s fingertips after blocking his shot. You guys act as if the calls only go against you.. there were several calls in Game 4 and Game 5 against the Nets which could’ve changed things for them. And if this was a conspiracy to make you lose, trust me, the refs would not let it come down to chance on 1 possession and 1 possible shot that could allow the Raptors to win. Give me a break. This is the NBA. Calls are blown/missed every game of every series going against both teams.

    • Gman says:

      You are just foolish. Its not about the amount of calls. It is about the timing of the call and who the calls are on. Calls for Nets vs Raps were really bad… touch calls on one side vs no call man-handling on one side. Nets being out rebounded? No problem, lets get Amir and Jonas in foul troubled the rest of the series, starting with game 3. LOL. calling 4 fouls on random net players VS 3 quick ones on Jonas or Amir is a big difference. Dwill gets 6 foul but KG who is not close to the play, puts his hand up and takes the call???

      Cmon Man, just foolish.

  6. Ratings > Game says:

    Nice how they kept Williams in the game and “transfer” the foul to KG. LOL!

    And take the hot hand amir out, charge call on DD, I am amazed the Raptors made this far!

    Adam silver got several game 7 on his first year. All the favorite team are staying to ensure ratings be high for the 1st year commissioner.

    Randolph suspension is a joke, if Nene grab deserve just a one game suspension then a shove deserve none IMO. no suspension on Paul george or any hawks bench was ridiculous as well.

  7. Antonio says:

    Nets over heat in 7

  8. adam says:

    The raptors did not squeeze by the Nets. They were take out by the refs. a major player in the four losses was in foul trouble in the first half. and Piece should have been fouled out at the half way point in the forth. Garnet gets to stay in the game when a sixth foul by him is given Williamson. The league has what it whats: a team from New York; a team from L.A.; The heat and a team from Texas. Good luck to indy now your the team that has to play against 8 players.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The Nets had the refs on their side in the first round. Refs are gonna be on Miami’s side second round. Miami’s gonna sweep with 4 blowout wins.

  10. Isyourboy says:

    This article is horrible! The ball don’t lie and the Brooklyn nets never get enough respect for the game they play , the nets didn’t barely win this game they had the game in the pocket from the beginning. Brooklyn nets winning 0-4 against the heat is big is better that 4-0 but this writer is just focusing how to bring down the Brooklyn Net and their fan. Let just wait to prove all you Heats groupies how great the Brooklyn Nets are as a team.

    • Nbafan says:

      You stay sleeping! Two time defending champs for a reason. You think joe Johnson the most overpaid player is going to do that against Lebron…HA! Playoffs are a different beast than regular season and that’s where the heat save their best for. Could barely beat Toronto and there were matchup issues everywhere and you still think you have a chance lol

  11. Sofa King says:

    I would love to root for Joe Johnson but Garnett and Pierce are on his team. Can’t stand them. Complete richard-heads. They can’t get old and retire soon enough for me.

  12. Romeo Aguirre says:

    I wonder who will be guarding Joe Johnson the man is a beast

  13. iamironman says:

    I feel for the Raptors. What a heartbreaker for this young team. They know they can compete and now this will serve as their motivation for next season. Now for the next series, Miami is rested and got redemption in their minds after being swept in the regular season. This will test LBJ’s killer instinct to try to match Pierce’s mind games. Heat in 5

  14. Jeff says:

    Miami in 5

  15. Scott Shankster says:

    Where did they get the background music for this clip ??? It’s kinda dope.

  16. mee(a)t says:

    That last play really messed up the Raptors. Casey drew that play up thinking the ball was gonna be thrown in on the left side of the court, but alas it was the right. The Raptors had to flip the play and well…hell broke loose. Ross should have been in the corner (i think) so his man could get away from the Lowry drive.

  17. Kome the Black Dumba says:

    Wow, if that’s not a foul I don’t know what’s a foul then. First KG and Johnson trapped\(could be a foul) kyle into almost losing the ball and then PP slaps both hands on his block.

    Anyhow, now the ratings should be high for the next rounds. Refs did a good job and nba is not crooked.

  18. pacersbandwagon says:

    lol the nets are not ready for miami heat in 6

  19. squala96 says:

    I would have loved Chris Bosh being booed at by his former fans for at least two games, but the Raptors simply couldn’t get it done. Veteran tactics by the Nets triumphed over their youthful energy. Nonetheless, it will be the Heat’s real test. With a 0-4 (should have been 1-3) record, LeBron, Wade, etc. will have a very tough road ahead.

  20. big hoss says:

    nets over heat in 6.