Raptors head home tied with Brooklyn
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors return to the Air Canada Centre with a lot of momentum Wednesday night when they host the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series.
The Raptors evened their series and earned their first road playoff victory Sunday with an 87-79 win at the Barclays Center.
"We're coming closer and closer to the end of the series," Raptors All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan said. "First team to win two now. We've got to understand that we can't drop a game and understand if we get the next one, if we drop a game, it's either win or go home. We've got to keep that mentality next game, play again like we did when we were down."
DeRozan had 24 points and his backcourt mate, Kyle Lowry, scored 22. Lowry and DeRozan were a combined 14-of-36 from the field, but neither team shot the lights out. The Raptors shot 41.3 percent from the field -- just a tenth of a percent better than Brooklyn. DeRozan scored 20 of his 24 points in the first half.
Amir Johnson added 17 points in the win and Greivis Vasquez had nine points and a game-high nine assists off the bench.
Paul Pierce scored 22 points to lead the Nets, Mirza Teletovic added 12 off the bench and Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams managed 10 points apiece.
The Nets, after trailing by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, took their first lead 2 1/2 minutes into the third on a Garnett layup. They were up by five before an 8-0 Raptors run, punctuated by Lowry's 3, gave the Raptors the lead back.
Teletovic's shot at the buzzer tied the score at 67-67 going into the fourth quarter and the Nets had a one-point lead after two Garnett free throws with 4:58 remaining -- their last points.
DeRozan hit two foul shots after that and Vasquez knocked down a 3-pointer.
The Raptors were clinging to the four-point lead when Pierce spun into Johnson on the block and was whistled for a charging foul. Lowry drained his hook shot at the other end after that and Shaun Livingston missed a layup for Brooklyn.
"It shouldn't happen, but I thought we rushed a lot," said Pierce. "You get in a playoff situation, one guy, or two or three guys want to do it on their own instead of just running the offense. I thought we got caught up in that today."
The Raptors opened the game with a 13-2 run and ended it with a 9-0 flourish, holding the Nets scoreless for almost five minutes at the end to snap a 13- game road playoff losing streak. The Raptors -- in the playoffs for the first time in six years -- shot almost 62 percent in the first quarter.
But Toronto did the job defensively as well, especially on Brooklyn's All- Star, Joe Johnson. The Raptors held him to seven points in almost 42 minutes of action.
Game 6 will be Friday night back in Brooklyn.
04/30 09:46:16 ET