Nets look for positives as Raps even series


April 23, 2014, TORONTO (ISN) – Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd tried to see the positives of the Nets’ 100-95 Game 2 loss to Toronto.

“We’re right where we want to be,” he said in his pithy manner. “We had the opportunity to take the lead late in the game and we came up short.”

“Again it’s basketball,” he added. “Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t.”

They went in more for Toronto in the fourth quarter Tuesday night. The Raptors shot 75 per cent — 12-of-16 — in the final 12 minutes to even the NBA playoff series.

After trailing 45-39 at the half, the Nets stepped it up to lead 66-64 at the end of the third quarter. Brooklyn led several times in the fourth and it was tied at 85-85 before Toronto pulled away.

“We kind of took control there for a little bit,” said New Jersey guard Deron Williams. “But we didn’t do a good job on keeping them off the boards. And then we allow 36 points in that fourth quarter, which is way too high for us, somebody that prides themselves on defence and getting stops, especially down the stretch. We didn’t do that tonight.”

Added veteran Paul Pierce: “We have to be better in the fourth quarter defensively.”

Down 79-78, the Nets sent in their shock troops of Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson and Williams midway through the final quarter. Johnson had done his part in the third with 12 points to drag the Nets back into it.

But this time they could not pull ahead as Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry stole the late show.

Pierce, who scored nine of his 15 points in the final three minutes of Brooklyn’s 94-87 win Saturday, went 2-for-6 in the fourth quarter and finished 2-for-11 with seven points.

“It happens,” said Kidd, who was in definite glass-half-full mode. “There are a lot of positive things that we’ve done in these first two games so now we have to go home and protect home.”

Expect an equally loud and proud crowd at the Barclays Center on Friday. Toronto GM Masai Ujiri’s Brooklyn slur prior to Game 1 is not likely to be forgotten.

Garnett, for one, wondered what kind of reception such potty talk might bring back home.

There will be no shortage of resolve on the court.

Tuesday’s game saw players from both sides throw themselves on the floor to corral a loose ball before an opponent did, as well as one in which pretty much everyone objected to the officiating. The hand-wringing and pained body language would have done Marcel Marceau proud.

Given both sides seemed equally irked, the officials probably went home happy.

Toronto, which had 19 turnovers in Game 1, coughed up 21 in Game 2. Coach Dwane Casey attributed it to a young team trying to do too much too quickly.

On the plus side, Toronto outrebounded Brooklyn 52-30.

So the series switches to Brooklyn, with the veteran Nets looking to regain the lead over a young Raptors squad that continues to overachieve.

The two have now played each other six times this season, with three wins apiece.

“These two teams are very similar,” said Kidd.

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