Mason Plumlee CENTER

First and foremost: the game was cut short because of a horrific leg injury to Paul George, who needed to be carried off by a stretcher. It was a gruesome image, and if you want to see it, well, it's out there. But for now, I send my heartfelt wishes to George on a speedy recovery, and hoping that the doctors and physical therapists that are sent to help him recover can help bring him back to full health.

The injury cast a pall over the evening, cutting the scrimmage short, but we'll try to keep this Plumlee-focused:

Plumlee's Blue team may have struggled with its arbitrary rival, but Plumlee shined against his very real roster spot rival, DeMarcus Cousins. After a rough first half, Plumlee dove to the rim for dunks and easy buckets alike for 10 third-quarter points, none better than a pretty one-handed alley-oop in transition.

Plumlee backed up Anthony Davis, first entering with 4:42 left in the first quarter, and had a slow start. Led off his offensive repertoire with a cringeworthy possession where he should've dunked immediately and hesitated. Had a smoother stint in the second quarter, but his unpolished offensive game and lack of natural alley-oop attempts meant his offensive performance was nearly nil. Plumlee was stronger on the defensive end, stopping Andre Drummond on a couple of possessions.

But it was his efforts in that third quarter that highlighted why Plumlee's a good fit on Team USA. He didn't play out of his comfort zone. He didn't take possessions that other players would finish. He had a clearly defined role and executed it about as well as anyone could. (He also, for the record, made Cousins look bad.)

No matter what, it's worth noting that Plumlee has worked his way onto this roster and earned a spot in the final 19, a remarkable achievement for a late first-round pick just a year ago. The fact that he's even here is incredible, even if you consider his inclusion came on the heels of a few dropouts.

But at the end of it all, we're just hoping Paul George makes a full recovery. As the old cliche goes, injuries are part of the sport, but nobody wants to see someone go down like that. An awful ending to what was otherwise a fun night. Our best to PG.


 

The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

Four tough games. Heat closed. Nets didn't. Hell of a season, guys.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

36 mins, 7-16 FG%, 0-0 FT%, 17 PTS, 4 ASTS, 4 RBS, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TO

Attacked for two early layups, but then looked surprisingly timid, passing up a couple of open three-pointers before burying two late in the second quarter.

But for everything he did well in the first three quarters, Williams did not score in nine fourth-quarter minutes. He recorded one assist and one turnover. I will leave it at that.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

29 mins, 2-6 FG%, 4-4 FT%, 8 PTS, 3 ASTS, 4 RBS, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 2 TOS

"Foul Trouble: The Shaun Livingston Playoffs Story."

The Nets went to Livingston in crunch time with a post-up -- a sneakily good play despite him not making $15 million, since he led the league in points per possession in the post -- and his shot just rimmed out.

Livingston may have played his last game in a Nets uniform, but I sure as hell hope not.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

41 mins, 15-23 FG%, 1-1 FT%, 34 PTS, 3 ASTS, 7 RBS, 1 STL, 0 BLKS, 3 TOS

FORGIVE ME JOE JESUS, FOR I HAVE SINNED. IT HAS BEEN OVER A WEEK SINCE I PICKED THE HEAT IN FIVE. AND JOE JESUS FORGAVE ME, FOR HE ALLOWED ME TO SIT BY HIS JUMPSHOT WATERFALL. AND HE SHOT, AND IT WAS GOOD.

AND THEN WE STRAYED FROM JOE JESUS, FOR JOE JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES FATIGUED OF HIS ISOLATIONS. AND JOE JESUS WAS LOST, UNTIL JOE JESUS DROVE INTO THE HEART OF KING JAMES, IN THE MIDST OF WRITING HIS NEW TESTAMENT.

AND WITH JOE JESUS ON AN ISLAND, IT WAS NEMESIS JESUS SHUTTLESWORTH WHO STRUCK A THREE-PRONGED BLOW. AND JOE JESUS SAID TO JESUS SHUTTLESWORTH, LO, I HAVE MY OWN THREE-PRONGED BLOW, AND I SHALL CORNER YOU WITH IT.

AND THEN THE DOUBLE-TEAM CAME AND HE COULDN'T EVEN GET A SHOT OFF.

FIN.

(Great effing postseason, Joe.)

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

35 mins, 8-18 FG%, 1-2 FT%, 19 PTS, 2 ASTS, 2 RBS, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 0 TOS

Came out to play early, scoring the team's first seven points. Worked for -- and earned -- his shots tonight.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

24 mins, 1-3 FG%, 0-0 FT%, 2 PTS, 0 ASTS, 8 RBS, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 2 TOS

It's just gotten hard to watch him on offense. Struggles to catch even basic passes low. Still a defensive mastermind, but can't even be relied on for a post-up. Love his non-shooting game -- tap-outs, defense -- but he's a shell.

This could be the final game of Kevin Garnett's career, buried by Ray Allen. That can't feel good.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

25 mins, 1-2 FG%, 2-4 FT%, 4 PTS, 1 AST, 5 RBS, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 2 TOS

Played more minutes by the end of the third quarter than he had in all of the postseason, and did a great job guarding LeBron James. But wasn't enough.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

22 mins, 1-3 FG%, 0-0 FT%, 2 PTS, 1 AST, 1 REB, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 2 TOS

His biggest strength and weakness on the court is that he thinks he's Joe Johnson.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

13 mins, 1-3 FG%, 4-4 FT%, 6 PTS, 0 ASTS, 1 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 0 TOS

Hit his free throws, but not much beyond that. Kirilenko did a better job defensively overall, though he had some good possessions on LeBron James.

Oh, who am I kidding. TELETOVIC FLY!

Goodnight, everyone.

 

The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

Everything the Nets did tonight was overshadowed by LeBron James, who dominated with 25 first-half points on 9-13 shooting, and then dominated the second half with... 24 points on 8-11 shooting. Pretty good.

After a technical foul in a scuffle with (who else) Alan Anderson, James dominated the game by getting into the lane for dunks and layups, and hitting shots effortlessly over Nets defenders. Double-teams nor single-coverage made a difference.

With their backs against the wall, the Nets decided on the curious strategy to isolate Joe Johnson on LeBron James, one foul from expulsion, on two possessions. Both ended in missed jumpers, and crisp ball movement on a late Miami possession ended in an open corner 3 for Chris Bosh, who buried his second three of the game to put the Heat up 97-94 -- and for good.

The Nets now have their biggest uphill battle of the season, down 3-1 to the defending champs heading back to Miami. Hell of an effort tonight, but it wasn't enough.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

32 mins, 5-14 FG%, 2-2 FT%, 13 PTS, 7 ASTS, 6 RBS, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 1 TO

The good: Looked quicker than ever, set up his teammates well, fought on defense, grabbed a surprising number of rebounds, limited his own turnovers.

Bad: struggled to hit open shots and even a reverse layup late in the fourth quarter.

Not the performance you want from Deron Williams.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

34 mins, 4-9 FG%, 5-7 FT%, 13 PTS, 4 ASTS, 2 RBS, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 4 TOS

Committed some silly shooting fouls and bad turnovers. Did like his aggressiveness going towards the basket and the game didn't fall apart with Williams off the floor. But couldn't handle Dwyane Wade.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

36 mins, 5-15 FG%, 6-6 FT%, 18 PTS, 2 ASTS, 3 RBS, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 2 TOS

Joe Johnson has many forms. Spot-up Sniper Joe? The best. Curling Joe? Great sport. Passing-Out-Of-Double-Team Joe? Lovely. Iso-Joe on LeBron James -- even with five fouls -- in crunch time? Not so much.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

31 mins, 6-11 FG%,  4-5 FT%, 16 PTS, 2 ASTS, 7 RBS, 2 STLS, 0 BLKS, 1 TO

Say what you want about this as a team game: the fourth quarter was the Paul Pierce show. Got into the lane for one dunk on Chris Andersen (AKA The Birdman That Isn't Ian Eagle), took some bizarre three-point attempts, blew past former teammate Ray Allen for another layup, egged on the crowd, and hit one ridiculous flailing three-point play.

That said, I know Paul Pierce really wanted to guard LeBron James and all, but, uh, maybe try some other things when the guy hits 25, or 30, or 40.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

25 mins, 3-5 FG%, 2-2 FT%, 8 PTS, 2 ASTS, 7 RBS, 1 STL, 0 BLKS, 1 TO

Sometimes he looks like Kevin Garnett no longer exists, that there's merely a decrepit shell in the paint that can occasionally grab rebounds and yell at people. And then sometimes he does this.

Gave everything he had. That's always evident. But wasn't enough.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

22 mins, 4-10 FG%, 0-0 FT%, 8 PTS, 0 ASTS, 8 RBS, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 0 TOS

For most of the regular season, Andray Blatche elicited a grade from me that felt like I wrote it on drugs, because he'd do the weirdest things with varying effectiveness and put the very nature of basketball through hellfire. But in these playoffs, we've seen a surprisingly subdued Blatche: he's staying in the paint, fighting for rebounds, getting good shots on offense, and has even played a few possessions of solid defense.

He's still Blatching -- there is no way to void Blatche of Blatche entirely. But it's been a new kind of Blatche here in the playoffs. Mostly for the better.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

15 mins, 2-3 FG%, 2-3 FT%, 6 PTS, 2 ASTS, 1 REB, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 0 TOS

I don't know if he's an effective matchup to guard LeBron James for stretches, because he's a bit skinny and LeBron James is a stone cyborg, but I thought he'd have a little more time to try. He's got such good vision, which helped him connect with Deron Williams and Andray Blatche on a couple of nifty plays.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

26 mins, 3-5 FG%, 2-3 FT%, 10 PTS, 1 AST, 2 RBS, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 0 TOS

He really loves the scuffle. Didn't even take a full quarter to get into it with LeBron James, forcing a double-technical foul after a scrum for a dead ball. But that scuffle also sent LeBron into LeBron™ mode.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

16 mins, 2-6 FG%, 0-0 FT%, 4 PTS, 2 ASTS, 4 RBS, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 0 TOS

Gave us no YouTubes to check.

 

The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

Ain't no place like home, right?

After putting up two stinkers in the first two games, appearing to give up early in Game 1 and then throwing away Game 2, the Nets came home and put together their best performance against the Heat this season, converting their open three-pointers, defending at the rim, and holding off a Heat squad that almost turned this game into a contest down the stretch.

The Nets showed off their depth, with six players scoring in double figures and two others adding more than eight points. They didn't look rattled or worried about their 2-0 deficit in the series. Now it's 2-1.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

39 mins, 3-11 FG%, 1-2 FT%, 9 PTS, 11 ASTS, 3 RBS, 1 STL, 0 BLKS, 2 TOS 

It took him less than 30 seconds to remove the cap from his 0-for-9 performance Thursday night, recovering an offensive rebound on the floor and hitting a floater in the paint. He didn't score again until the third quarter, but just getting over that hump was a great mental start, and he bounced back from arguably his worst offensive game ever with a much-improved all-around performance.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

29 mins, 5-9 FG%, 1-1 FT%, 12 PTS, 5 ASTS, 4 RBS, 1 STL, 0 BLKS, 0 TOS

Hit the longest shot of his career and continued to attack throughout. Put one of the finishing touches on the game with a two-hand flush in the fourth quarter in traffic. Glue guy does it again.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

34 mins, 7-10 FG%, 0-0 FT%, 19 PTS, 6 ASTS, 3 RBS, 0 STL, 0 BLKS, 2 TOS

Hey, he led the team in scoring before the rout was on! Hey, he scored 16 points in his first eight shots and added six assists! He's there! He put the capper on the game with a corner three-pointer to put the Nets up 16 with under a minute left! Hello? Is this thing on?

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

28 mins, 5-10 FG%, 2-3 FT%, 14 PTS, 1 AST, 7 RBS, 2 STLS, 0 BLKS, 3 TOS 

Was visibly upset after his fourth foul with 8:29 to go in just the third quarter but was a positive in his minutes.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

22 mins, 5-6 FG%, 0-0 FT%, 10 PTS, 1 AST, 7 RBS, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 1 TO

He drove. He dribbled. He scored. I saw it.

Garnett looked much more alive in Game 3 than he did in the first two games: contained pick-and-rolls, hit a couple of jumpers and made his easy shots. Maybe he's not done just yet.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

19 mins, 5-10 FG%, 5-6 FT%, 15 PTS, 1 ASTS, 10 RBS, 0 STLS, 0 BLKS, 1 TO

DRAY LIVE. LIVE, DRAY. Blatche attempted a Dray Shake, crossed up Chris Bosh en route to a layup, tied his playoff career-high in points in eight minutes of playing time, defended with aplomb, fought for offensive rebounds to the delight of the crowd, led the team in scoring in the first half, and exited to a standing ovation.

This is Dray at his Drayest: he does whatever he wants at any time he wants, with no plan, rhyme, reason, or concept.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

19 mins, 1-1 FG%, 1-2 FT%, 3 PTS, 1 AST, 3 RBS, 1 STL, 0 BLKS, 0 TO

ANDREI CENTERLENKO. The Nets put Kirilenko at the center in a ridiculously spread-out lineup to end the first half, resulting in a fair amount of fun.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

17 mins, 3-6 FG%, 0-0 FT%, 8 PTS, 1 AST, 1 RBS, 0 STLS, 1 BLK, 0 TO

Yeah, you don't remember anything he did before Ray Allen held him by the throat and he swung an elbow at Allen in retaliation. You don't have to. That jump-started his game, and the two of them went back-and-forth for a few fun possessions. Hey, anything that gets Ray Allen off his game in the playoffs with his team down is a good thing.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

19 mins, 4-7 FG%, 0-0 FT%, 12 PTS, 0 ASTS, 6 RBS, 1 STLS, 0 BLKS, 3 TOS

Remember when he only played one minute in last year's playoffs? He doesn't either.

S'Parkinga, Fearza, whatever you want to call him, the guy hit threes and defended LeBron James for long stretches. He hit threes and took heat checks with reckless abandon. He has no fear and no conscience. When it's on, it's hard as all hell to stop him.

 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

The Nets played a much more competitive, in-sync game than they did in Game 1, getting to spots on defense in the paint more quickly, creating more open shots inside and out, and forcing live-ball turnovers early.

But down the stretch in crunch time, the Nets wasted a close game by giving up two corner three-pointers and offensive rebounds to a supercharged Heat squad. After 40 hard-fought minutes, they'll head back home down 0-2.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

I will say this: he set up his teammates well throughout and didn't slack on the defensive end. But in Game 2 of his first second-round playoff series since joining the Nets, Deron Williams did not score. Not once. Not on a free throw, not on a layup, not on a jumper. Not once.

You can blame the referees for not calling contact on a lot of drives throughout the game, You can point to the Nets' spread-out offense as a reason why Williams doesn't get a lot of shots. You can even say sometimes shots miss.

But the Nets are built for the present precisely because of Williams, built to win now to appease him and built around veteran players to ensure he's not wasting away his prime years in a rebuilding situation. This is when the Nets need Williams to prove he's not a fit-in player anymore, hell, this is when they just need him to score.

This was the first scoreless playoff game of Williams's career, and it could not have come at a worse time.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Great offense early -- when he's matched up against the right defender, his shot's unblockable from within 15 feet, and he used both his hook shot and his jumper effectively in the first. But while he's a good passer, he's not a pure facilitator, and he made a few costly, careless mistakes in the third quarter.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Oddly uninvolved in crunch time. Don't really know what else to say. As Joe as Joe is.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Took his fair share of hits driving to the rim and in his few stints defending LeBron James. Was jobbed a couple of times by bad officiating on his drives, getting no calls on straight shots at the rim. Can't really blame him for that.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Deflating creakiness. He can still defend in spurts and hit one jumper and another tip-in. But when the Nets try to get him involved down low, it does not end well. He is a shell of his former self, running on pure adrenaline and sweat at this point. It's sad, really. We may be seeing his last few games.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

His utter fearlessness off the bench can be a great thing, like when he drives right past LeBron James on a fast-break for a layup. It can also be a terrible thing, like when he takes a step-back three-pointer with an open Mirza Teletovic, in the midst of setting a playoff record, flanking him on his left.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Set the team's franchise record for most threes off the bench in a playoff game -- in the first half. Set the team's record for any player early in the second half. Missed a bad shot in crunch time, a step-back three-pointer down 8, but he came to shoot tonight.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Love his effort and energy but when he's leading the Nets, that's probably indicative of bad things.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

For all the talk of each team's inverted offense and small-long hybrid lineups, this game came down to how each team performed in the paint, and the Nets couldn't control it against a stronger, more athletic Heat team. The Nets had no answer for the Heat's free-wheeling, curling guards, and scored tough baskets through contact and soft open layups with ease.

The Nets appeared content in the fourth quarter to ride out whatever happened with their bench, and adjust accordingly if they made another improbable comeback. They didn't, and they'll head to Game 2 with the blowout loss. If they take even one in Miami, it'll be a win. But this one sure wasn't.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Was not aggressive in the first quarter, but struggled to defend whoever he got switched on. Had one great crossover that led to a mid-range jumper and two buzzer-beating heaves, but those are also some lucky shots that you don't expect him to hit.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Hit one of his early shots and was tasked with guarding LeBron James for long stretches, which did not go well for him. He didn't look comfortable running the point.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Didn't get going early with the Heat keying their defense towards him and LeBron James on full hound mode, but floor opened up as the game progressed and different guys guarded him. He's also shooting three-pointers like it's a video game. Sat the entire fourth quarter as Kidd decided to throw in the towel. Can't really put this loss on him, unless you're upset that he's not as good as LeBron James, in which case, I guess you can put it on pretty much everyone.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Came to play early, inadvertently tackled Mario Chalmers, shot entirely too many mid-range jumpers, was largely ineffective after the first few minutes.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Looked old. Did not score for the first time ever in his playoff career. Only played 16 minutes. Let's see if he's any more rested in Game 2. Sure was loud on the bench, though.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Frusdrayding. Controlled the glass for moments but also lost some silly turnovers and missed a wide-open layup with the Nets down 4 that kick-started a 12-0 Heat run. It was all downhill from here. This was bad, real bad, Andray Blatchin’.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

At one moment in the third quarter, Kirilenko attacked LeBron James head-on off the dribble, drawing a foul. It was weird, but also kind of typified tonight's problems: you can't have Andrei Kirilenko trying to create points in a playoff game.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

The Nets need either Teletovic or Thornton to show up and hit shots off the bench from three-point range. Teletovic hit one three-pointer all game.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Thornton hit zero.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

!DETCEJER EELMULP NOSAM


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

See you in Miami.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Didn't have his best game, wasn't silent for four quarters, but led the Nets offense and played some really solid defense. I thought today was a referendum on Williams as a player, but as it turns out, he still is who we thought he was: a solid point guard with a spectacular crossover and bad ankles.

You can point to his missed free throw in crunch time as a testament to shaky confidence, or maybe it's just because the Air Canada Centre is the loudest place I've ever heard outside of Boston when Paul Pierce returned, or maybe it's just because people miss free throws. I don't know. But Deron Williams seems to have accepted the fact that he's not a superstar anymore. Maybe that's all they needed.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

After starting in 50 consecutive appearances, Livingston moved to the bench without complaint or strain, returning to his original role as backup point guard while maintaining his skill as an elite post-up guard. With the game hanging in the balance, Livingston buried two free throws to put the Nets up 104-101 with 13 seconds left, then threw away a pass that could have decided the game.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

In Game 7 of the 2013 Nets-Bulls series, a plantar fasciitis-afflicated Joe Johnson shot just 2-14 in a six-point loss. In Game 7 of a 2014 Nets-Raptors series, Joe Jesus rose on Sunday to lead the Nets into the second round.

Johnson got a fair amount of early looks at "the nail," getting good clean looks in the paint early, though the Raptors defense hampered him on a few occasions. Then, with Patrick Patterson switched on him, Johnson poured in fourth-quarter points, because of course he did, because he's Joe Johnson.

Talk about his contract all you want. The Nets don't win this series without him. They may not have won a game.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

This is why they brought him here, maybe not for the blocked shots, but holy crap, for the series-deciding defensive play.

The stylistic difference between the crafty, spacing Pierce and the broad-bodied Johnson typified how these two teams play: the Nets look to bury you from outside and post up their guards, while the Raptors look to control the glass and the paint with their bigs.

Like in each game before, that difference was on full display. Pierce kicked off the game by burying a three-pointer, and Johnson fired back with a game-high 12 points in the first quarter, all in the paint and most over Pierce's outstretched arms.

That's why he's here.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Raptors fans hate him. They really do. Sometimes, he gives them a reason to, whether it's goading the opponents or putting his hand in players' faces after the play, or putting his hands up while running into opponents, or just saying things that I can't repeat on this here website. But a double-double in this game is nothing to sneeze at.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Andray "Guarantee" Blatche entered the game to a chorus of boos, and though he immediately tipped in an putback on his first offensive possession, looked a little rattled. When he went up with shots, he faded away from the basket, rather than drawing contact. Drew a huge charge in the fourth.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

Hit his first three-point attempt, legitimizing his insertion into the starting lineup, but then looked oddly tentative, at times refusing to take open three-point attempts.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Didn't hit a shot but thought his defense was a bit better than usual.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Oddly huge game. It was a semi-rare first quarter appearance for Thornton, but with Kyle Lowry playing in foul trouble, he delivered 14 first-half points with a quick trigger on his three-pointer and a few big shooting fouls. Came back in the fourth quarter with another three.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

On the brink of elimination, played about as well as you can imagine for 36 minutes, lopped off for about six, and closed it out behind their stars. Game 7 awaits in Toronto.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

I don't think he saw the poster outside Barclays Center before the game started, but he appeared motivated nonetheless to start the game, swerving in the lane for a pretty layup and hitting a three-pointer after. Continued his barrage even after twisting his ankle in the third quarter badly enough to send him to the floor wincing in pain for about a minute, but stayed in the game and kept the offense humming.

Williams has had issues in the fourth quarter all season, but darted around a screen and buried a three-pointer to put his team up 13 with about 75 seconds left, all but sealing the game right there. In a series where D-Will's had question marks in every game, on the brink of elimination, he put together a real-live killer performance.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Was bumped from the starting lineup, and as good as he's been all season, I can understand why. Alan Anderson knows DeMar DeRozan well, wanted the challenge to defend him, and can also shoot from the outside in a way that Livingston can't. I like him as a point guard in the second unit, and they'll probably keep the lineup this way in Game 7. But he can't make the silly mistakes he made in the fourth quarter.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Johnson has been Brooklyn's unequivocal offensive leader in this series: the Raptors just don't have any answer for him inside, and he pounded into the paint with impunity, starting with a flare screen by Williams that got Johnson free for a lay-up. Other than one ugly shot in crunch time, did his job tonight.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

At one point in the third quarter, with the Nets building a dominant lead, Pierce pounded his chest and stared down Drake.

A+.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Garnett didn't play much, and didn't have to -- his short jumper was rolling, his defense was great as always, and he fought Valanciunas for position inside. He's, uh, theatrical, but the Nets feed off it.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

First man off the bench and played some of the best defense of his career in the first quarter: blocked two shots, stayed down, and snared rebounds. Blatche is at his best (and, admittedly, least entertaining) when he roams block-to-block, rarely dribbles, and focuses his offense at the basket on put-backs and post moves. Naturally, when he tried to do weird Andray Blatche things, he was called for a travel. If he plays like this in Game 7...

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

He should never try to catch alley-oops from Marcus Thornton, but other than that, did what the Nets brought him in to do: make plays and passes nobody else can see.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

I didn't quite know what to make of it when the Nets announced Anderson as a late start over Shaun Livingston, but it couldn't have worked out better: Anderson took the assignment to guard DeRozan personally, he attacked the glass, and spaced the floor, forcing the Raptors to respect his shooting and not bring the double-team so quickly to Joe Johnson.

Career-high in rebounds. Expect a Game 7 start.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

I don't really know what to say about this. I don't know what there is to say about this. Well, okay, there's this: it was bad. It was so bad for three quarters that Raptors fans mockingly sing-songed a "BROOK-LYNNN" chant. It was so bad that the best thing the Nets tweeted about this game was the brutal honesty that Toronto's fans went harder than Brooklyn's do.

And then Joe Johnson, Joe Jesus, Joe Cool, Joe Marcus Goddamn Johnson, nearly brought the Nets all the way out from a 26-point deficit, a 22-point fourth-quarter deficit, along with a suddenly studded lineup including Deron Williams, Alan Anderson, Mirza Teletovic, and Andray Blatche.

Seriously, what the hell am I supposed to say? That was single-handedly the most incredible comeback I've ever seen in person. We're talking a complete fourth-quarter takeover. We're talking three potential four-point plays in the final 12 minutes, the last when the game actually seemed out of reach. We're talking Joe Jesus to Dray Live to A Squared. We're talking what could have been the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the bench.

This game wasn't a game. It was an experience. It was a cinematic masterpiece at the height of first-round playoff tension. It's a shame that it ended in a loss, because that might be it for the Nets.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Hurt his ankle early in the game stepping on Joe Johnson's foot at an inopportune time, shook it off just in time to get torched by Kyle Lowry through the first three quarters, before running the game like an elite point guard in the fourth, darting around screens and setting up teammates for three-pointers and dunks alike. Other than one really bad play -- getting crossed by Lowry en route to a Lowry layup -- Williams played an opposite game to what we're accustomed to seeing in the fourth quarter from him in these playoffs. If only he'd brought that type of creative ability in the first three quarters.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Terrence Ross blocked his jumper and I saw a unicorn. Livingston recovered and buried his jumper to make it go away. Was one of the few Nets to show up in the first half, but he seems to have more problems shooting from two feet than 12.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Joe, man. Joe. Joe Johnson is one of the most polarizing players in the NBA. Yes, he makes too much money. Yes, he sometimes seems to fade in and out of involvement. But when Joe Johnson goes off, he'll do it in so many ways that you have no idea what's happening. You blinked and Joe Johnson had 30 points. It was that kind of game for him, where he burned

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

The scuttlebutt was that the Nets should have brought him back in. But I see why Kidd left him out. You go with the guys that brought you there. Pierce was on the bench for the entire comeback.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Looked like a 37-year-old trying to keep up with a 21-year-old.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Andray Blatche nearly contributed to the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in playoff history, and then made the most boneheaded offensive play he's ever made, throwing a ball backcourt when he didn't have to and the team down two on the last play. I don't think this Blatche can ever be out-Blatched.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

Four-point play. I don't know. What? What the hell happened tonight? Are we all on drugs?

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

When the game was out of reach to start the fourth quarter, Teletovic was the only one who played like he gave a damn, hitting a three-pointer and flipping in a fast-break layup. Kudos for starting the waterfall.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

Lots of blame will be placed on the team's inability to create offense in the fourth quarter, and that's a fair analysis. They stunk in crunch time against a team that has (if you believe the narrative) worse crunch-time options.

But Brooklyn's pick-and-roll defense fell apart for long stretches in the first half without Kevin Garnett on the floor, and Amir Johnson rolled into the lane for easy points as DeMar DeRozan hit some tough shots and slick drives alike. Falling behind by 17 led to them needing to claw back in the first place, and if it wasn't for that stretch, they wouldn't have been in this position.

They did turn it around in the third quarter, but that was the problem: they shouldn't have had to turn in the first place.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Played toe-to-toe with Kyle Lowry in the first quarter and struggled to contain him afterwards. Brutal possessions in the fourth quarter, including two turnovers and missed open shots. The Nets traded for him three years ago to have a significant impact in games like this, and he hasn't: 5 of his 11 turnovers have come in the fourth quarter in this playoff series.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Has struggled in an overt way this postseason, throwing away bad passes, looking tentative on shots, and missing free throws. He played a good defensive game, and a brief scuffle in the third quarter with Jonas Valanciunas energized him. But a crucial missed layup late doesn't help his case.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

A quiet night from Johnson in the team's biggest game of the year. Only sparingly went into the post despite his usual size advantage. The Raptors double-teamed him throughout, but the Nets still couldn't create anything with an open man.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Great, inspired game from Pierce, who crafted baskets seemingly out of thin air both inside and out and knows when to attack and when to dish. Pierce had the crowd resting on his fingertips tonight, ready to explode. But his exploits weren't enough.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

The difference between Brooklyn's defense with him on the court and off the court is just staggering. His ability to contain the pick-and-roll and recover is something that most big men just can't do. Only called for one moving screen, which seems inaccurate.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

His good defense karma from Game 3 has melted away. Blatche got eaten alive in the side pick-and-roll in the first half as the Raptors built their lead. Had some good moments rebounding in the paint to bump him up from an F, but he was a big reason this team let a deficit fall to 17 in the first half.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

Was disruptive defensively when others weren't. He's a nonentity when it comes to shooting the ball, but he creates so many issues just via existence.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

Kept Marcus Thornton on the bench with heady two-way play in the middle quarters. If Livingston and Kirilenko are off the floor, the Nets need him to be their defensive specialist.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Eaten alive in pick-and-roll and airballed one of the worst shots I've ever seen him shoot, but some solid second-half play attacking the boards and a buzzer-beating jumper to end the third quarter semi-salvaged his night. But he's struggled to hit threes in three of four games now. Not what you want from your designated three-point specialist.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

It's really cool when they nearly let a 15-point lead crumble to dust in three minutes, right?

Defensively, the Nets did a solid job containing DeMar DeRozan after a hot start, and Jonas Valanciunas did considerably less damage with five fouls. Kyle Lowry only got hot late, despite an injury in the first quarter. Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce hit clutch free throws. What was a solid "A" effort in the first 44 minutes was nearly lost completely.

The Nets get out of this one with a win, in spite of their play in crunch time. That's not something you say about them often.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

An otherwise great night sullied by an awful finish: on the verge of a Nets collapse, Kyle Lowry somehow got into the lane on Williams, and Williams missed three free throws in the final 47 seconds.

He's still got that killer crossover, even if it feels like he might not bring it out night in and night out, and took advantage of an injured Kyle Lowry. Two big threes kicked off the game and he continued attacking throughout. Drew a lot of contact inside, most notably on one play where he tried to throw down a dunk over Jonas Valanciunas that he probably shouldn't have.

Distributed well, even passing up semi-open shots to get teammates (most notably Brooklyn's Backcourt mate Joe Johnson), and until the team's near-collapse, played an excellent game.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Some foul trouble and I expected him to get more looks in the post, missed one late crucial free throw, and threw away a terrible pass that contributed to the collapse. Not his best glue guy night.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Joe Cool came through again, burying two free throws with four seconds left to seal the win.

Got rolling in the third quarter with some pretty shots -- an open left corner three-pointer, another open right wing three-pointer, and then a drive into the lane where he met all the defense of an open door. There were moments when the Nets needed someone to create a shot late in the clock, and Johnson delivered.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

There are moments where he gets open shots and rims them out, and you wonder if it's one of the last shots he'll ever rim out in the playoffs. And then he drives to the basket and slams a dunk past Tyler Hansbrough, or flips up another ridiculous layup and-one, or hits big jumpers to close quarters, or hits two free throws when the Nets have seemingly forgotten how to make that shot, and you say, "Oh, yeah, that's why he's here."

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Keyed this team's early offense with his passing game, including a picture-perfect feed inside from one block to the next to Joe Johnson for a layup. But in a weird, weird twist, the team fell apart defensively when he entered the game for Andray Blatche.

Kind of glad he got into foul trouble in such a short time, because it was clear he wasn't afraid to put his body on the line when guys attacked the basket. And when he dove on the floor, it was one of those moments that reminded you why they brought KG here in the first place.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

This is weird, but I swear it's true: Blatche played some of his best defense ever in the second half. Picked a steal, drew a charge, filled lanes defensively, and hedged on pick-and-rolls like he'd never done before. It was like he became a new player after he banged knees with DeMar DeRozan in the first half. Played so well he kept Kevin Garnett resting until under 3:30 left in the fourth quarter, when the Nets nearly collapsed. I don't get it either. Andray Blatche is still weird. My brain has lost all sense of meaning.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

It is strange that he's not getting in earlier, considering just how disruptive he can be defensively. But he's bringing it when called upon -- defending DeMar DeRozan and forcing turnovers.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

After airballing an open three-point attempt that shot out of his hands like a missile, Thornton cut into the lane and flipped in an and-one layup in between two defenders. If Andray Blatche was 6'4", he'd be Marcus Thornton.


 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

Until the last few minutes, the Nets maximized their best asset -- forcing turnovers -- and were dominated by their biggest weakness -- rebounding. They may have set a record for most shots rimmed out in a game, which will happen sometimes. Credit to DeMar DeRozan for showing up big after a rough Game 1. Now it's time to go back to Brooklyn.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Came out as aggressive as he did Saturday afternoon, but his shots didn't fall in the first half. One notable layup twirling around Jonas Valanciunas to put in a scoop, but a quiet night otherwise on a bigger stage, including a rough turnover in crunch time.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Didn't show any fear attacking the paint in his first playoff series since 2006 and his first as a starter, and unlike the rest of the team didn't have any issues hitting free throws.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

The Raptors still don't have an answer for him on the wing -- it's either make or miss once he gets into the paint. Johnson carried the Nets through the third quarter with 12 big points in a variety of ways, but airballed a 3 in the fourth quarter and the Nets didn't go to him otherwise.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

2 quick fouls in the first quarter kept him glued to the bench, but played disruptive defense throughout. Didn't hit any shots until crunch time: a step-back and-one jumper that tied the game at 83, and then an and-one layup to cut a 92-87 lead to 92-90 with under a minute left. Pierce had one more chance to give the Nets the lead, but rimmed out two wide-open three-point attempts down the stretch.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Strong start to this one on both ends, neutralizing Raptors pick-and-rolls with Valanciunas and hitting two nice mid-range jumpers in his first four-minute stint. Rolled well to the rim to get some easy buckets and played solid defense in his limited time. Not an accident that he had the team's best plus-minus.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

After sitting out the entirety of Game 1, drawing the ire of his wife, Kirilenko got some early playing time in Game 2 and earned his keep with his usual, sneaky style of play. Played some crunch time minutes in lieu of Shain Livingston, hitting the deck on one play to save a defensive rebound. If not that, this is his play of the night: stealing an offensive rebound right out of Terrence Ross's hands and grabbing another offensive rebound on the very next shot.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Rough Game 1 didn't translate over: Teletovic missed his first three shots but then buried his next four, including three three-pointers, briefly leading the Nets in scoring to close the first half. Still can't defend.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Doesn't look fazed by playoff minutes but Brooklyn's defense fell off a cliff with him in the game.