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Game 2: Nets squander golden opportunity late; fall to Raptors: 104-99

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Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game Two Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Nets had a chance to steal one, but they handed it over to Toronto... literally and figuratively.

It was Nets possession, down three with 15 seconds left. The play was designed for Joe Harris, but as soon as Harris caught the inbound pass, Toronto swarmed. Instead, he tried an unsuccessful handoff, which caressed off Temple’s foot and the ball went straight into the hands of Norman Powell who slammed the door shut with a dunk on the other end.

Game over.

The Raptors won 104-99 and now lead the series 2-0. “The ball was intended for Joe and it got to Joe,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said after the game.

“It was a great play call by JV [Jacque Vaughn]... We ended up just fumbling the ball,” said Jarrett Allen after the game.

Temple on what could’ve been done differently: “The thing that was done differently is we complete the handoff. That’s all there is to it. I take blame. I’m sure Joe would say the same. It takes two.”

This was a prime opportunity for the Nets to steal one. They did everything they needed to in the first three quarters: They led by as many as 14 and locked Toronto down on the defensive end. Temple scored 15 of Brooklyn’s 27 points in the third to keep them afloat, but they had little momentum entering the fourth

“At one point they went to a box-and-one, so we got to adjust to that. It felt like we went a little stagnant,” said Caris LeVert of Toronto’s adjustments in the fourth quarter.

They started early and often. The Raptors were hitting their 3-pointers and getting to the free throw line at will, starting the fourth on a 10-3 run and then 19-5 extended, which gave Toronto its largest lead of the night at eight.

The Nets scored just 19 points in the final frame and turned the ball over 17 times. Their 3-point shooting was unsustainable, hitting 5-of-9 in the first quarter and finishing 9-of-32 from that point on.

It didn’t help that LeVert shot 5-of-22 from the field. Temple’s 21 points and Allen’s 14 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots helped alleviate some of the pressure on LeVert, but ultimately the team couldn’t execute down the stretch when they needed a leader most.

“I think those [mental mistakes] add up at the end of the game. Swiping down, we kept missing switches. But if we clean those up, maybe one less error per quarter, we’ll be right where we want to be,” LeVert said after the game.

The Nets played well on the defensive end until the final quarter, but as individuals, they looked gassed and Powell took advantage, putting home 13 points in the fourth en route to a huge 30-point quarter for the Raptors.

Overall, it was another strange game. There were 46 fouls called in 48 minutes of action, a constant ticky-tack battle. The Nets shot 19-of-27 from the free throw line and the Raptors shot 19-of-28.

Brooklyn dug themselves a hole, but continued to fight until the very end. You know, bring you in just to let you down type of thing that they so often do. Down six with under two minutes remaining, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot came up with a clutch 3-pointer to bringing Brooklyn within three, less than 50 seconds remaining. The Nets forced a shot clock violation on the other end and had a chance to tie.

But you already know how that ended.

The Nets are in a 2-0 hole against the defending champs. That doesn’t bode well for a team that had the lead for nearly a full three quarters of the game. They’ll have to get a win in Game 3 on Friday or else their fun could end early this postseason.

“It’s the defending champs and we have to be ready to play a full 48 minutes,” said Jarrett Allen. “We’re still in this,” he added later.

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TLC GETS THE START

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot got the start over Rodions Kurucs at the power forward after a big 26-point outburst in Game 1. It was his third start of the season. in the bubble, he’s had some big games:

In a victory over the Bucks on 8/4, he tallied a career-high-tying 26 points (8-of-12 FG, 5-of-7 3FG) in 31 minutes.

In a win over the Magic on 8/11, he posted 24 points (8-of-12 FG, 4-of-8 3FG) in 24 minutes.

Read more about Marks’ latest find in our “Reclamation Success” story.

For a different perspective, head on over to Raptors HQ, our Raptors sister site on SB Nation.

Or as Sponge Bob says...