TORONTO – DeMar DeRozan poured in 27 points while Kyle Lowry had 24, but the two had little help from their Toronto Raptors teammates in a 102-100 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.
Andray Blatche had 24 to top the injury-depleted Nets (4-10), who came into the game on a five-game losing streak and with the third worst record in the NBA. Joe Johnson had 21, while Paul Pierce had 16 points and Kevin Garnett has 12 points with six rebounds.
The Nets were missing Deron Williams (sprained ankle) Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) and leading scorer Brook Lopez (sprained left ankle).
But it was the Raptors (6-8) who could have used some more help. Steve Novak was the only other player to score in double figures with 12 for the Atlantic Division leaders, who lost for the first time in three games. Rudy Gay had nine points, while Tyler Hansbrough and Jonas Valanciunas had seven rebounds apiece.
The Raptors trailed 81-76 heading into the fourth quarter of a game that saw neither team – save for a handful of individual performances – play particularly well.
The Nets had assembled a 15-point lead with a little more than five minutes to go and the game seemed out of reach, but the Raptors came to life in the final two minutes. Gay drained a three with 24 seconds to pull the Raptors to 101-100.
Shaun Livingston missed one of two free throws with 11 seconds left, but Amir Johnson’s three-point attempt on the Raptors’ last shot clanged off the rim.
A basket by Lowry with 7:23 left in the game pulled Toronto within seven points, but the game got away from the Raptors from that point on, a three-pointer by Joe Johnson followed by a basket by Blatche put the Nets up by 15 and the game seemingly out of reach.
The Raptors showed some life in the final two minutes, baskets by Lowry and Amir Johnson cutting the Nets’ lead to 101-95.
The Raptors had one of its worst defensive efforts of the season, allowing the Nets to shoot 51 per cent from the field. The Raptors shot 44. Brooklyn outrebounded Toronto 39-34.
Nets coach Jason Kidd played for the same 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks team that Dwane Casey was a member of the coaching staff. Casey had kind words for Kidd, saying “Jason Kidd is a reason why a lot of us are around, his play as a player, we owe him a lot, just for what he did for us in Dallas as a player.” But Casey said he wouldn’t spend any time Tuesday catching up with Kidd, saying “Friendship is for the summertime.”
DeRozan got off to a strong start, making all five of his shots – including three three-pointers – in the opening 10 minutes, to put Toronto on top 28-26 heading into the second quarter.
The Nets shot 55 per cent against Toronto’s lackadaisical defence in the second quarter, and seven straight points by Joe Johnson put the Nets up by four and the visitors took a 55-51 lead into the locker-room at halftime.
DeRozan carried Toronto with 11 points in the third, but the Raptors couldn’t make up any ground on the Nets, and a driving jumper with three seconds left in the quarter put Brooklyn up 81-76 with a quarter left.
The game was the second of a four-game homestand for the Raptors, that has Toronto hosting the Miami Heat on Friday and Denver on Sunday.
NOTES: The Nets roster features former Raptors Reggie Evans and Alan Anderson. . . Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic was at the game and helped chuck balls up into the crowd during a timeout.