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Costly turnover, Nets let game slip away, losing to the Raptors 104-103

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

BROOKLYN - Less than 24 hours ago, the Nets faced their most emotional challenge of the season, going to Boston with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in tow and trying not to let the emotions and pageantry of the evening get the best of them. While on Monday night, the Nets had a more pressing basketball-related task to topple; defeat the first place Toronto Raptors.

Brooklyn entered the night with a seven-game home win streak and a five game overall win streak. They were also just 1.5 games behind the Raptors for first, looking to inch closer.

Luckily for Brooklyn, Toronto was without their leading scorer DeMar DeRozan. However, they did have to contend with a young wing in Terrence Ross who was coming off a 51-point performance in his team's loss to the Clippers. They weren't, however, without Kyle Lowry, who was fantastic. But, fortunately for the Nets, they saw an offensive outburst from Paul Pierce.

Pierce finished with a season-high 33 points, but the Nets fell to the Raptors when they threw the ball away in the final seconds and allowed Patrick Patterson to put the game away, 104-103. A crushing defeat.

Raptors got out to a quick start, led by Lowry. The Nets could not stay in front of Lowry, who scored nine points in the first six minutes of the game, to Brooklyn's 11 total points. Shaun Livingston had no answer for Lowry on the defensive side of the ball, so Jason Kidd sent Deron Williams in to stop the bleeding, so to speak.

Williams did a much better job in stopping Lowry, who scored 12 points in the first quarter, but, more importantly, he was able to help spark the offense. Williams went for seven points in seven first-quarter minutes, leading the Nets to a 26-25 lead after one.

Andray Blatche was hot early, as well, once again as an anchor to that second unit, led by Williams and led defensively by Andrei Kirilenko. Blatche scored 12 first half points. Mirza Teletovic was a quick spark in the second quarter -- not quite like he did against Dallas a few nights prior, but... -- scoring five points. The offense was there for the Nets, but the defense, well, it didn't show up in the first half.

Lowry hit a halfcourt, buzz-beater to put the Raptors up 57-56 at halftime. Lowry scored 20 points in the first half.

Again, it was Lowry who gave the Nets fits in the third quarter. And with that, the Nets started to lose their composure a bit, with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett picking up early technical fouls just three-plus minutes into the quarter.

Pierce responded, though, scoring seven straight as Lowry picked up a technical foul and turned the emotional tide -- he had 21 points through three. And the Nets got "lucky," when Lowry picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter. That sent him to the bench for the remainder of the third.

Jonas Valanciunas was giving the Nets fits in the paint, with Lowry out, as the Raptors turned to him to pick up some of the scoring slack. And when Williams picked up his fourth foul for the Nets, things seemed to even out.

After three, the score was 82-81 in favor of the Raptors.

Lowry returned to start the fourth and picked up where he left off. He helped the Raptors to a 9-point lead with seven minutes left to play. He continued to drive to the basket, and if it wasn't a make, he was drawing contact and getting to the line.

The Nets went back to their veteran lineup, with the offense running through Pierce and Williams, and after Williams crossed over John Salmons he hit Alan Anderson for a baseline jumper to tie the game at 94-94, with 3:30 left to play.

Brooklyn put the ball in Pierce's hands down the stretch and asked him to finish off the Raptors. It seemed as if he was going to do just that, but a costly turnover in the final seconds and a last-second open jumper by Patrick Patterson deflated the Barclays.

Raptors win, 104-103.

Pierce finished with a season-high 33 points (making seven threes), while Blatche finished with 20 points and six rebounds. Williams went for nine points and 11 assists.

Lowry finished with a team-high 31 points with six assists and five rebounds.

Next up for the Nets, Friday night at home against the Thunder.

For more on the Raptors, see: Raptors HQ