Raptors drop game in overtime against pesky Nets ... Vanvleet sees game-winning attempt rim out ... Another big game for Big V ... Nurse wants Lowry to shoot more threes ... Atkinson a fan of Kawhi ... Bucks bolster squad by adding Hill
BROOKYLN — The plucky Brooklyn Nets have been hard-luck losers so many times this season that maybe the basketball deities threw them a bone on Friday night.
The 9-18 Nets can’t compete with Toronto’s talent, yet outworked the visitors and survived in overtime to take the 106-105 final, dropping the Raptors to 21-6.
Fred Vanvleet had a chance to win the game, but rimmed out a three-pointer set up by Kyle Lowry on a broken play that the Raptors managed to turn into something workable.
“Great ball movement. I know everybody would have probably liked Kawhi (Leonard) or Kyle to take that shot, the last shot, including me (but) they both made great plays,” Vanvleet said.
“Kawhi found Kyle and then Kyle drove and found me wide open. I’ll take those all day, everyday.”
D’angelo Russell had 29 points, allowing Brooklyn to overcome Leonard’s 32, and the Nets had a massive 60-41 rebounding advantage that helped negate Toronto’s 24-9 made free-throw advantage.
Leonard had missed a pull-up jumper late in the fourth, allowing Spencer Dinwiddie a chance to prevent overtime, but Leonard guarded his drive well and no foul was called, resulting in the extra period. Leonard threw down a monster jam and hit some shots in the frame, but the Nets would not be denied.
The Vanvleet miss and two others by the struggling Lowry loomed large.
Jonas Valanciunas had 24 points, Pascal Siakam 16, but Toronto shot just 39% from the field and committed 15 turnovers.
The Raptors opted to not hold a shootaround in the morning, with head coach Nick Nurse explaining that a busy week filled with games, events and saturated media coverage all added up, along with the notoriously slow New York City traffic.
The way the game started might have caused Nurse to rethink the decision, because his charges certainly could have used the shooting work.
“Guys are struggling to find their rhythm,” Vanvleet said.
“Guys just not feeling good about their shots. There’s ups and downs to them, and that’s kind of the problem with being a three-point shooting team. Sometimes if you don’t make them, you’re struggling to claw out wins.”
Indeed, Toronto has had some awful shooting starts to games and this one was no different. There was the 1-for-9 bricklaying from beyond the arc (including seven straight misses) in the first quarter, and 4-for-16 overall in the first half to bemoan. Yet, Toronto found itself tied at 53 apiece, largely thanks to a 15-3 made free throw advantage. In the opening half at least, the Nets could not stop the Raptors, but the Raptors could stop themselves.
Nurse lamented the close shots more than the long ones afterward.
“We missed a lot of layups,” Nurse said.
“I was more disappointed in our finishing at the rim ... that tells you how many layups we missed.”
Valanciunas didn’t have the inside issues most of his teammates did. He followed up his huge effort against
Raptors star Kawhi Leonard goes to the basket against Nets’ Rondae Hollis-jefferson during last night’s game in Brooklyn.