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