Raptors hold off Nets to take 3-2 series lead
Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - The noise in Air Canada Centre went from deafening to silent to a collective sigh of relief during Wednesday's dramatic fourth quarter.
The Toronto Raptors saw a 26-point lead evaporate in front of their eyes before eventually holding off the veteran Brooklyn Nets, 115-113, in a tiebreaking Game 5 showdown.
The Raptors showed they are more than a stepping stone in a potential Heat- Nets second-round matchup, as they held off Brooklyn's furious comeback to earn a 3-2 lead in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
"We did everything wrong you could think of in the fourth quarter," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. "This was a learning experience."
Kyle Lowry led the way with 36 points behind six 3-pointers, including a go- ahead make from behind the arc with 1:04 remaining. DeMar DeRozan added 23 points and Jonas Valanciunas chipped in with 16 for Toronto, which is one win away from winning its second-ever playoff series.
Joe Johnson paced Brooklyn with 30 points, Mirza Teletovic added 17 off the bench while Deron Williams and Alan Anderson each netted 13 in the setback.
"The guys fought," Nets head coach Jason Kidd said. "They put us in a position to win on the road, but we didn't do the little things."
Toronto took Game 4 in Brooklyn and can capture its first postseason series win since 2001 with a win there in Game 6 on Friday.
The Nets appeared ready to pack it in as they began the fourth quarter in a 91-69 hole and had Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett watching from the bench. Somehow, the combination of Johnson, Williams and an unproven bench totaled 44 points over the final 12 minutes to make things very interesting.
Teletovic opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and converted a three- point play on the ensuing possession to jump-start a 19-3 run that trimmed the Nets' deficit to 97-91.
Johnson knocked down an open 3-pointer with 3:19 left to pull even at 101-101, and it was knotted at 106-106 prior to Lowry's aforementioned trifecta.
Two DeRozan free throws stretched the margin to 113-108, though Anderson's second four-point play of the quarter gave the Nets hope inside 10 seconds to play.
After DeRozan sank two clutch free throws for a three-point game, the Raptors fouled Andray Blatche, who made his first free throw and grabbed his own rebound after intentionally missing the second. Blatche's pass back to the top of the key, however, went over Williams' head and into the backcourt for a violation, and the Raptors barely hung on for the win.
There were 11 ties and six lead changes in the contest, but the last time the Nets led was with five minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Valanciunas' three-point play tied things at 40-40 and sparked a 13-0 run that put the Raptors in the driver's seat.
A 3-pointer by Terrence Ross and a Lowry floater inside the final minute yielded a healthy 59-44 cushion, and after Williams was called for a charge in the closing seconds, Lowry raced down and banked in a running 31-footer at the buzzer to give the hosts an 18-point spread at the break.
The 62 points were the most the Raptors ever scored in a playoff half, and Toronto still kept its foot on the gas in the third quarter, outscoring the Nets in the frame for the first time in nine meetings this season.
Midway through the quarter, DeRozan picked Williams' pocket and blew past Johnson for a two-handed slam and a 77-53 lead, and 3-pointers by Ross and Lowry the next two times down extended the difference to a game-high 26.
The previous four games of the series were mostly tight, with the Raptors outscoring the Nets by a small 372-370 margin ... The team winning at halftime in this series has won all five games ... Pierce netted 10 points and moved past Sam Jones into 25th place on the NBA's all-time playoff points list ... Greivis Vasquez netted 15 points off Toronto's bench.
05/01 00:05:39 ET