Rapped: Raptors 87, Nets 79 (GAME GRADES)


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.