Every game in the series between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors has come down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Well it didn’t look like it would early on, but game five followed the script perfectly.
After a close first quarter, the Raptors exploded in the second, as they outscored the Nets 34-19 in the second. A Kyle Lowry three-point heave at the buzzer gave the Raptors a 62-44 edge at the end of the first half, as Lowry led the Raptors with 21 points at the break.
Despite a 16 point explosion by Joe Johnson in the third quarter, the Raptors extended their lead to 91-69 heading into the fourth quarter. In the final quarter, Toronto fell apart offensively, as the Nets started the final frame on a 22-6 run, before tying the game at 101-101 with 3:13 left to play.
The Raptors, who were at one point leading by 26 points, were now tied with the Nets with just over three minutes to play in regulation. Kyle Lowry was huge for the Raptors on the night, and it was a tough runner in the lane by Lowry that gave Toronto a 111-108 lead with 27 seconds remaining.
After a pair of DeMar DeRozan free throws, a four point play by Allen Anderson brought the Nets to within one at 113-112. Trailing 115-112, Joe Johnson had two free throws, but missed the second and the ensuing rebound resulted in a backcourt violation by the Brooklyn Nets.
Despite blowing a 26 point lead, the Raptors escaped with a 115-113 victory in game five. Kyle Lowry dominated for the Raptors, as he scored 36 points and added 6 assists. The starting backcourt for the Raptors combined for 59 points and led the Raptors to within a game of reaching the second round for the second time in franchise history.
One mistake that nearly cost the Raptors game five was fouling three-point shooters. The Raptors gave up three four point plays in the fourth quarter including a costly one in the final minute of the fourth quarter. They will need to restrain themselves from fouling outside shooters if they want to lock this series up on the road in Brooklyn.
For the Brooklyn Nets, they will need to come out of the gates flying in game six. For the second straight game the Nets got off to a slow start and the Raptors took advantage. At home they will need to keep their crowd in the game, and ride their momentum to an early lead.
Despite the loss, Joe Johnson had a superb game for the Nets and almost single handedly carried them back from a 26 point deficit. Johnson finished the game with 30 points on 13 of 23 shooting. Many of the games in this series have down to whichever backcourt performs better.
While Johnson had a solid game, and Deron Williams had a near double double with 13 points and 9 assists, the Nets guards were outdone by the 59 points scored by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Johnson and Williams will need to put on a terrific show at home if the Nets want to extend this series to seven games.
The Toronto Raptors avoided disaster, as they held on to win in game five, and they will be looking to secure a berth in the second round for the second time in franchise history on Friday night.
Commentary By Eric Kummel