April 25, 2014 10:16 pm

Toronto Raptors lose Game 3 to Brooklyn Nets 102-98

Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) looks to pass away from Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Garnett (2) and Deron Williams (8) during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Friday, April 25, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points on a night he didn’t get much help from his teammates and the Toronto Raptors dropped a 102-98 decision to Brooklyn on Friday, giving the Nets a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series.

Patrick Patterson added 17 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 15 points for the Raptors, who rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to nearly steal a victory in Barclays Center. Jonas Valanciunas added 10 points and 10 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double of the series.

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READ MORE: Raptors’ Ross can’t explain subpar playoff appearance so far

Joe Johnson topped the Nets with 29 points, while Deron Williams had 22 and Paul Pierce finished with 18.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday in Brooklyn, then the series heads back to Toronto for Game 5 on Wednesday.

The Raptors were looking for their first playoff road win since Game 1 of their second-round series against Philadelphia in 2001, but trailed 77-66 with one quarter left.

The Nets expanded their lead to 15 points a couple of times in the third before the Raptors finally came to life. Patterson drained a three-pointer to spark an 8-0 Raptors run that pulled Toronto within seven points with 2:31 on the clock.

Another Patterson three and a free throw each from DeRozan and Valanciunas pulled Toronto to within four points with 1:07 left. Then teams traded fouls and free throws down a frantic final minute that had the fans on their feet. Patterson missed two shots from the foul line with 19 seconds left that would have tied the game, and that was as close as Toronto would come.

READ MORE: Coach Casey confident Raptors can handle the road in Brooklyn

The Raptors shot 46 per cent on the night while the Nets made good on 49 per cent of their shots. The Raptors outrebounded Brooklyn 35-29.

The Raptors insisted they weren’t concerned about playing in Brooklyn. They’d fared well on the road, going 22-19 in the regular season for a franchise record for wins, tied for the most among East teams.

The Barclays Center though has been particularly kind to the Nets this season. They were unbeatable here for two months during the regular season, winning a franchise record 15 straight games on their home court.

The Raptors knew a hostile crowd awaited them at Barclays Center in this playoff series that turned nasty before the first ball had even been tossed up. Prior to Game 1, Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri dropped his now famous F-bomb while referring to Brooklyn.

According to social media, fans in Toronto resurrected Ujiri’s F-bomb in a chant Friday night at Maple Leaf Square, where hundreds of people braved the rain and wind to watch the game on the big screen outside the Air Canada Centre.

WATCH: Drake busts out lint roller at Raptors playoff game vs Nets

The Nets went on to win the opener 94-87 and New York’s tabloid newspapers had fun with their headlines the next day. The headline on the New York Daily News front page: “Don’t’ F*** With Brooklyn! Nets give foul-mouthed Raptors a spanking to take Game 1.”

The New York Post’s front page was a picture of a grinning Paul Pierce with the headline: “After Toronto GM insults B’klyn, Nets shut up Raptors. F#(at)K YEAH!”

The Raptors evened the series with a 105-100 victory on Tuesday.

Ujiri was fined $25,000 for the profanity, and Garnett said he was curious how fans at the Barclays Center would react to the Toronto GM.

“Very, very eager to see how they respond to the ‘F Brooklyn,”‘ Garnett told reporters earlier in the week. “Very, very eager to see how they respond to this kid.”

Friday’s crowd in Brooklyn, though, felt more festive than hostile. Outside the sleek $1 billion Barclays Center, a steel drum band entertained people waiting in lines.

Inside, a small pocket of fans chanted “U-S-A!” when Ross went to the free-throw line, but it was otherwise just the usual refrain of “Ref you suck!”

READ MORE: Raptors beat Nets 100-95 to even first-round series at 1-1

The capacity crowd of 17,732 fans at the Barclays Center included pockets of red-clad Raptors fans, including one man that stood and used a lint roller on his red shirt in celebration of Raptors baskets – a reference to Drake’s use of a lint roller to clean his pants during Game 2 at the Air Canada Centre.

Rihanna, Michael K. Williams, who played Omar in “The Wire,” and Nate Ruess, the lead singer of Fun, were all seated courtside.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted his good luck message, posting: “Here’s hoping the (at)raptors take the series lead tonight in Brooklyn. #wethenorth”

The optics at the Barclays Center added to the drama. The black-accented court is brightly lit like a theatre stage while the crowd sits under dimmed lights, blending into the black walls of the arena. The ThunderStix glow.

DeRozan led the way with eight points in an opening quarter that saw neither team lead by more than a couple of baskets. The Raptors ended the frame with a 12-6 run to take a 23-19 lead into the second.

A Ross three-pointer stressed Toronto’s lead to five points early in the second, but the Nets went on a 12-1 run to take an eight-point lead with just under a minute to play before halftime. Brooklyn went into the dressing room at the break up 49-45.

The Nets continued to put distance on Toronto in the third, taking an 11-point lead on a floating jumper by Johnson with 6:22 left in the quarter. The Raptors chipped away to pull within four on a three by Greivis Vasquez, but the Nets ended the quarter with a 9-2 run to take a 77-66 lead into the fourth.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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