The Toronto Raptors pulled out a hard-fought 87-79 Game 4 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday at the Barclays Center, evening the first-round series at 2-2. The win was the Raptors' first road playoff victory since 2001, and the fans in Toronto were ecstatic:
The game was tied entering the fourth quarter after the Nets came back from a 17-point first-half deficit. It remained tight throughout the final frame, with neither team able to get much separation. Paul Pierce gave Brooklyn a four-point lead with a layup almost immediately upon re-entering about halfway through the period, but Toronto responded with a 14-2 run to close the game.
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 24 points, although he did miss his final nine shots. Kyle Lowry, playing through a knee injury, had 22 points and was huge down the stretch. Amir Johnson added 17 points and shook off a hard fall in the second half.
Paul Pierce had 22 points to lead the Nets, but Brooklyn's offense went in the tank to close the game. The Nets didn't make a single field goal after Pierce's layup with 6:11 left, with four turnovers also hurting the cause. Brooklyn shot just 41.2 percent overall, 65.5 percent from the line and 4-of-20 from three-point land.
Down 2-1 on the road, the Raptors came out firing, with Johnson, DeRozan and a noticeably gimpy Lowry all scoring in double figures in the first period. Johnson led the way with 11 first-quarter points, as Toronto shot 61.9 percent in the frame to grab a 13-point lead after one quarter.
The Raptors' offensive onslaught continued early in the second quarter, and it was DeRozan who continued to shoot it well. After 10 first-quarter points, DeRozan scored 10 more in the second, helping to push Toronto's lead to as many as 17 points.
But then the Raptors went cold, and the Nets capitalized on the poor shooting. Pierce and Garnett both knocked down a couple of shots as Brooklyn closed the half on a 14-4 run to turn that 17-point deficit into a seven-point deficit. Toronto made just one field goal in the last five-plus minutes of the half to let the Nets back in the game.
Brooklyn's surge carried over to the second half, as an 8-0 spurt gave them their first lead of the game, with five of those points coming from Pierce. The Raptors' offense remained stuck in a rut, failing to record a field goal over the first 6:06 of the third quarter.
A Johnson dunk finally ended the long drought, and although a nearly four-minute field-goal drought followed, Toronto stayed within striking distance. Lowry completed a three-point play with about two minutes to go in the quarter to cut the deficit to two, and moments later, the point guard buried a three to put the Raptors up three. The game headed to the fourth quarter tied after Mirza Teletovic buried a jumper at the third-quarter buzzer.
With the series tied, the Raptors head home with a chance to take control. Game 5 is on Wednesday night in Toronto.