Since everyone turned their calendars to 2014, the Brooklyn Nets have beaten teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat; they’ve beaten everyone they’ve faced since the turn of the new year, except for the Toronto Raptors, who got a huge clutch play from Patrick Patterson to beat the Nets for the second time this month.
The Nets had a one point lead (103-102) with 12 seconds to go; Deron Williams was inobounding the ball, trying to get it to Joe Johnson. It was a bad pass, picked off by Patterson, who went off to knock the jumper with six seconds remaining in the game. The Nets couldn’t get something out of their final possession, and the Raptors won 104-103.
These guys are chasing us but they’re putting it together. They’re playing well. We’re the only team that beat them in 2014. I mean, that’s a tough team. They had the game and we made a play and we made a shot. We knew they didn’t have any timeouts. We guessed right and Patrick looked like Richard Sherman out there with that steal.
The Nets lost for only the second time in 12 games, but listening to Paul Pierce speak after the game makes it seem like this one was on the cards. Not just Joe Johnson going through a funk (3-of-10 from the field, 9 points per game on 36.3% through the last four games), but a bit of emotional emptyness after beating the Boston Celtics in Boston, which took a lot out of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Last night was a tough game to play in, so many emotions. It was good to just get some normalcy back today and I felt comfortable, relaxed. But it would’ve been better if we got the win today, though.
Kevin Garnett probably was more emotionally spent than anyone else, and it showed as he was completely dominated by Jonas Valanciunas in the post. The Lithuanian center, who is going through and up & down second season in the league finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds on 9-of-14 from the field, while Garnett himself struggled offensively and on defense, scoring only 6 points.
Kyle Lowry was ahead of the rest in the game, having no problem with Shaun Livingston or Deron Williams guarding him. He scored 31 points, adding 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals. That’s the first 31-5-7-5 game since Rajon Rondo in the beginning of the 2012 season. There has been talk about Lowry getting traded in the next three weeks to avoid losing him to free agency, and probably the Raptors not trying to make the playoffs. However, without DeMar DeRozan by his side, Lowry showed both the Raptors and the teams interested in him just how valuable he’d be.
The Raptors improve to 23-21, one of 5 teams with a .500 or better record in the Eastern conference (things are getting better, right?). Valanciunas said that he had a great game because on this night, he didn’t understand English (referring to Kevin Garnett’s attempts at trash talk). This season began with trading away two players that signaled this is going to be a tank job. It turns out this team, through chemistry, good coaching and nice developing talent, is heading in the right direction.