TORONTO, ON. — Visibly distraught, Nets center Andray Blatche sat at his seat in the visitor’s locker room. He gazed at the hoard of media waiting to ask him about the the play: “the pass,” a play that’ll live infamously in Brooklyn Nets lore, sitting firmly next to C.J. Watson’s blown dunk in Game 4 of last year’s playoffs.
Rookie Mason Plumlee, seated next to Blatche, stood up as sacrificial lamb, taking some attention from Blatche by turning the cameras toward him. Call it rookie duties. But that didn’t stop a stammering Blatche from having to explain to a half-dozen reporters multiple times how his physical mistake manifested.
It started with a furious comeback with Blatche on the floor, erasing a 26-point lead and heading to the line down 115-112 with 4.9 seconds left. After Blatche made the first to cut the lead to two, he missed the second free throw — which was not intentional, Blatche said — and guard Shaun Livingston raced in past DeMar DeRozan, tipping the ball in the air as DeRozan shoved him out of bounds.
“Shaun made a great play keeping the ball alive,” Blatche said.
“Foul,” Livingston said plainly about his viewpoint on the play.
Improbably, Blatche grabbed the loose ball, keeping the Nets alive for another split second. Deron Williams stood on the perimeter, waiting and ready to take what would’ve been the biggest shot of his Nets career.
Then, with the game on the line after making one of the best plays in a 26-point comeback, Blatche threw it all away, tossing the pass well over Deron Williams’s head and into the backcourt, causing a backcourt violation that was reviewed and upheld with one second left. Blatche said the ball slipped out of his hands.
“I tried to get the ball out to D-Will,” Blatche said, “So he could get the 3, so he can take the game home. But (Kyle Lowry) ran out there, forced me to make a tougher pass, and it flew backcourt.”
The Raptors inbounded the ball just over the outstretched fingertips of Deron Williams with one second left, dribbled out the clock, and took a commanding 3-2 series lead with the 115-113 win.
The Nets are now one game away from elimination facing improbable odds: 153 of 166 home teams up 3-2 in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series in NBA history, according to WhoWins.com.
“It definitely hurt,” Blatche added. “We were down 20 in the fourth, we fought all the way back to give ourselves a chance. That’s important. We never hung our head down and just gave up. It’s just unfortunate, that pass I made, was too strong.”