With 1:36 remaining on Monday night, DeMar DeRozan took a three and missed a three. 16 year-veteran Paul Pierce grabbed the rebound and promptly hit a three of his own. The game had been tied at 94 points apiece. Pierce’s three gave the Brooklyn Nets a three-point advantage. Brooklyn would go on to close out the 101-97 victory from there.
That three —and Pierce’s 10-point fourth quarter— is exactly why the Nets are a dangerous team. Regardless of the four-game advantage the Toronto Raptors held coming into their final regular season meeting with the Nets, Brooklyn is filled with veteran players capable of converting late-game plays when it counts.
Pierce would score 15 points in the game, despite being a game-time decision after suffering a sore shoulder in a collision with Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson the night before. Brooklyn was led by 18 points apiece from Shaun Livingston and Deron Williams.
Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. It wasn’t enough, as DeRozan scored 14 points, nearly eight below his season average. Terrence Ross wasn’t able to connect from downtown, making just two of his eight attempts from beyond the arc. With reserve point guard Greivis Vasquez missing all three of his three-point attempts, the Raptors had six made field goals from downtown compared to Brooklyn’s 11 three-point field goals.
In a game that see-sawed back and forth with both teams having opportunities to take control down the stretch, Pierce’s tie-breaking three-pointer and veteran savvy gave Brooklyn the edge. Built with depth and experience, Brooklyn isn’t a team to take lightly. In the second game of a back-to-back, each team left everything on the floor, but thanks to a strong fourth from Pierce, the result was a Brooklyn victory.
Toronto will head home to Toronto to face an important but difficult three-game homestand against the Pistons, Grizzlies and Suns. Still without top-reserve Patrick Patterson for the next week, the Raptors will look for their bench to step up. Against Brooklyn, Tyler Hansbrough (16 points, 4-for-6 field goals, 8-for-10 free throws), was the bench player to have a solid impact. As the week continues, the team will need contributions from each of its bench to lessen the impact of Patterson’s absence.