The Raptors were looking for a split in London, and they came out of the gate on Saturday with the energy to get it done.

I must sound like a broken record by now, but once again, the Raptors relied on DeMar DeRozan’s hot shooting in the first quarter, as the youngster poured in 13 points in the opening frame.

The Raptors seemed to have a different composition in the first quarter than they did on Friday, and it showed on the scoreboard after one, as the Raps led by seven.

In the second, Andrea Bargnani picked up where DeRozan left off scoring wise, as Bargnani made up for poor shooting by getting to the line eight times in the first half and racking up 14 points. But it wasn’t enough to close out the half for Toronto, as the Nets chipped away at the lead by nailing three ball after three ball after three ball.

What New Jersey was accomplishing behind the arc, the Raptors were trying to accomplish at the charity stripe, as Toronto went 16-of-17 from the free throw line in that first half, but failed to hang onto their lead.

After holding the Nets to just 23 points in the first quarter, the Raptors gave up an astonishing 42 in the second.

Toronto’s defence came to life a bit in the third quarter, but the real story of the third was Andrea Bargnani’s lights out shooting. Andrea carried the Raptors through the quarter, and was a big part of why the game was tied, for the 17th time, heading into the fourth.

The Raptors then jumped out to a 7-1 run to start the fourth quarter and held the lead until there was about a minute left. After the Nets had taken the lead, DeMar DeRozan converted a layup off of an incredible spin move to tie the game with about 20 seconds left. Deron Williams then missed a potential game-winning shot, and with the Raptors out of timeouts, the game was headed to overtime.

Sasha Vujacic hit a big three-pointer to tie the game with 10 seconds left in OT, and Bargnani missed a chance to win the game after that, which meant fans at the O2 were treated to double-overtime. The second overtime was awfully similar to the first, only this time it was Deron Williams tying the game for the Nets with 10 seconds left and DeRozan missing a potential game-winner at the buzzer.

Finally, in the third overtime, one team pulled away. Unfortunately, that team was the Nets, as the Raptors were held scoreless for the first three minutes of the period. New Jersey went up seven with under two minutes to play, and even though the Raptors actually fought back with eight straight points, the Nets regained the lead on a pair of Travis Outlaw free throws with about 12 seconds left. Then, for the second time with the game on the line, Bargnani held the ball for too long, was indecisive, and missed a jumper.

Marathon over, Nets win 137-136, after 63 minutes of basketball.

After both teams failed to play any defence in the first half, I thought both recovered well, and at least put an honest defensive effort into the second half and overtime. The result was a hard fought ball game between two young teams, which looked to have the crowd in London on their feet. They deserved a great game after Friday’s snooze-fest, and they got one with this epic.

No, the Nets and Raptors aren’t going anywhere this season, and their inability to close out games contributed to today’s finish, but you can’t argue the fact that this was an instant classic.

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 52 Min, 35 Pts, 11-28 FG, 3-7 3Pt, 10-10 FT, 12 Reb, 3 Ast (I know Bargs came up empty with the game on the line, but over the course of the whole game, he was the best Raptor, even putting in work on the glass and taking charges)

Nets Player of the Game: Brook Lopez – 47 Min, 34 Pts, 14-24 FG, 6-8 FT, 14 Reb, 3 Ast, 8 Blk

Comments (6)

  1. Exhausting game. I missed the one yesterday. Three things:

    1) I can see why James Johnson didn’t play in Chicago. I thought his b-ball IQ was ok in the first few games, but he had two major brain farts in the overtimes. He was lazy chasing Vujacic off a screen which led to a huge 3, and he fouled Outlaw on a jumper with the Raps up 1 late in the 3rd overtime. I don’t think I can handle another physically gifted 3 who doesn’t understand the game and has no discipline, but we’ll see how he does the rest of the season.

    2) The Raps had 3 chances to win the game at the end of the overtimes, and they ran 3 terrible plays with plenty of time on the clock, including the same terrible play twice (give the ball to Bargs near the 3 point line). If Triano’s back next season, I’m writing a fucky you letter to MLSE and following a different team. Yeah he has a terrible team, but slap yourself in the head if you don’t think we can do better than Smitch and Triano. I’m tired of this shit and if MLSE is going to shit on the intelligence of Raps fans with this flag waving bullshit, they can go fuck themselves. An insane fan base deserves better.

    3) Say what you want about Bargnani’s game. He had the ball twice with a chance to win, and he wouldn’t put the ball on the floor. He took the easy way out twice, and missed both times. Great example of why I will never be a fan.

    Fourth thing – At least there’s Ed Davis.

  2. Over the past 4 years I’ve watched every raptors game via internet downloads. I watched raps initially because they were the only games accessible but eventually got sucked in as an actual fan, gunning for the underdog. Eventually my better half got sucked in too.

    This weekend was the first time I’ve seen them in the flesh as myself and my fiancee flew over especially from Ireland for both games. From what I could tell the crowd was about half b-ball literate and half ordinary folks checking it out for the first time.

    There were definitely more Raptor fans, but there amazingly still seemed to be more Nets fans than in New Jersey itself?! It was a bit disappointing that many left as overtime approached and even after the first and second overtimes ended! I even fear some thought it ended as a draw.

    The O2 is a world class venue, and it really worked well. I wonder how the seating capacity and atmosphere compared to the ACC? Scott had a point about the mascot reception. I’ve watched 100′s of raps games but I had never seen any of the routines or half time show so it was a real novelty, and credit to the Raptor, he really works it hard.

    It was strange in many ways, seeing so many people you’re so familiar with but have never seen in real life: the players, Jay and the coahes, Scott McCullough, Matt, Leo and we even spotted Brian Collangelo in among the punters behind the Raptors bench. It was also a strange silence during plays without hearing Matt’s commentary.

    Overall it was a great experience, and even though we couldn’t snatch a legendary win tonight (or last night) I feel lucky that Raps I follow happened to be involved in these Euro games. There are some real fans over this side of the pond and we appreciate *any* NBA balling. Sometimes you guys can look down on or be bored by the Raps losing ways but these are still amazing talented athletes and games like tonight prove what a show it can be, even with low ranked teams.

  3. Going 11 for 28 and being called a team’s best player sums up everything that is wrong with player evaluation in the NBA.

  4. LOL, 11-28.

    Again, he can’t even be relied on to do the one thing people thinks he does well effectively and efficiently so it’s tough to excuse the historically bad defense and rebounding.

  5. As I’ve said before, Bargnani’s lack of heart/hustle are his downfall, and are what make him incredibly frustrating to watch/root for. But if you’re evaluating by natural talent and skill, right now, Andrea is miles ahead of anyone else on this roster. He is a phenomenal talent with incredible potential that hasn’t been tapped due to his own faults. He is the team’s best player, he just doesn’t play like it.

    As for this game in particular, he didn’t shoot well and failed twice with the game on the line, which I pointed out, but actually rebounded and took some charges. He was the best Raptor in this game, with DeRozan right behind him. That’s not necessarily a praise of Andrea, but says more about the current Raptors team: A guy can shoot 11-of-28 and still be your best player.

    Thanks for reading, and commenting.

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