Raptors regain home court advantage with 87-79 victory in Brooklyn; Series tied 2-2

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors came into Brooklyn with a mission. The Nets on the other hand, looked late to show up for this one. They started off slow, but the real emphasis was their horrible fourth quarter. The teams were tied 67-67 at the end of the third quarter, but the Nets failed to gain any offensive rhythm in the final 12 minutes of play.

Late in the first half during game 3, Kevin Garnett forced a turnover and lifted the crowd off their feet with a triumphant yell for some praise from the Nets faithful. From that moment on, the Nets had complete control of the game, despite almost giving it away. Sunday night, the Nets hoped to grab a 3-1 series lead at home, and head back to Toronto with a chance to take the series.

However, behind a horrible fourth quarter from Brooklyn, they let Game 4 slip away. The final score was 87-79, and the series is now tied 2-2.

Recap:

It was a very slow start for the Nets. Within the first three minutes of the game, the Raptors jumped out to a 13-2 lead, forcing Jason Kidd to call a quick timeout. As a road team in the playoffs, it's extremely important to start off strong and get the crowd out of the game.

The Nets answered with a 7-0 run of their own, but from that moment on the Raptors continued to dominate. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were absolutely manhandling the Nets defense. Both scored 10 points each, shooting a combined 7-13 from the field.

As usual, Kevin Garnett came out after his usual five minutes of action. The Nets backup big men struggled to stay sturdy in the paint after the substitution. Lost in the hot shooting from Lowry & DeRozan, Amir Johnson led the way with 11 points. As a team, the Raptors shot a scorching 62% from the field. Brooklyn on the other hand shot 44%. Deron Williams kept them somewhat close with eight points. The score was 35-22, in favor of the Raptors.

DeMar DeRozan continued to play at a superstar level. He scored 10 second quarter points and had his team shooting 56% from the field in the first half. The Nets defense improved from the first quarter, but it was the hot play of DeRozan that was giving them nightmares. Kyle Lowry, who scored 10 points in the first quarter was held scoreless in the second quarter due to early foul trouble. He was livid and had to be taken out of the game earlier than usual.

On the offensive side, it didn't help that the Nets were shooting 27% from three, a key aspect to their offensive plan. When their three ball isn't falling, they struggle to capitalize on their opportunities.

The Nets were down by as much as 17, but they made a push late in the quarter, ending on a 14-4 run. They outscored the Raptors 22-16 in the second quarter, and trailed 51-44 at the half.

Deron Williams & Paul Pierce were the only Nets' in double digits. They each contributed 10 apiece.

The Nets came out strong to start the second half. They jolted an 8-0 run, getting the Brooklyn crowd back into the game. They led 52-51 with their first lead of the night at the nine minute mark of the third quarter.

Paul Pierce did exactly what he was brought to Brooklyn for; show some heart. Pierce took the ball hard to the hole, getting the Raptors into early foul trouble and creating shots for all Nets' players. Pierce had 10 points alone in the quarter and had the Nets flowing in the third.

The Raptors on the other hand went ice cold. DeMar DeRozan suddenly couldn't hit a shot and was held to just two points in the quarter. But, with DeRozan struggling that meant Kyle Lowry had to step up; and step up he did. Lowry scored eight points in the quarter and had his team fighting until the very end of the quarter.

Mirza Teletovic was the spark the Nets needed off the bench. He scored 10 points in the third quarter and was the only Nets player off the bench in double digits.

The score was tied 67-67, heading into the fourth quarter. Credit to the Nets defense: The Raptors scored 35 points in the first quarter alone. In the second and third quarter combined, they scored just 32.

Through the early stages of the fourth quarter, both teams were exchanging buckets with a fast-paced, back and forth battle.

The Nets offense was atrocious in the fourth quarter. After ten minutes, they were 3-14 from the field. They certainly picked an awful time to get cold. They started off struggling and ended off struggling. The score was 83-79 with two minutes remaining. Deron Williams scored eight points in the first quarter. Since then, just two points  and five turnovers for the Nets point guard.

The Nets went four minutes without a point. It was the 4:58 mark when Kevin Garnett hit on a pair of free throws, and from that point on the Nets had absolutely no offense. They didn't score a single point since the Garnett free throws, proving to be the worst drought to finish a playoff game since 1998. They ended the fourth quarter having only scored 12 total points.

But, Toronto deserves the credit. They were the better team most of the night, and took game 4 in Brooklyn thanks to their gritty defensive game plan. The series is now tied 2-2 heading back to Toronto.

Paul Pierce led all Nets with 22 points on 9-14 shooting. Following him was Mirza Teletovic who scored 12 points in 16 minutes of action.

Final score: Raptors 87, Nets 79.

Game 5 will be played Wednesday, when the Nets look to regain control of the series.

For more on the Toronto Raptors, check them out at Raptors HQ.

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