The Brooklyn Nets waited until overtime to take their largest lead against the Toronto Raptors on Monday night, and in the moment it looked like that was good timing. A physical and eventful extra five minutes, though, ultimately led to Brooklyn falling to the Raptors, 114-113.
Brooklyn got off to a quick start in the extra period, gaining a four-point lead, but then failed to score on three straight possessions. As play got chippy and Kyle Lowry exited the game with an apparent back injury (get better soon, Kyle), Brooklyn held a two-point lead with a minute to go.
What gave Toronto the lead and win was a DeMar DeRozan and-one. Quincy Acy was sloppy in the final minutes, getting the ball poked away from him after what he thought was a secure rebound.
Spencer Dinwiddie, who tallied a career-high 31 points on the night to go with eight assists, watched his game-winning attempt fly over the backboard as he fell to the ground. That missed shot was game, and Dinwiddie let the baseline cameraman know what he thought about it.
Dinwiddie to the camera – "this is exactly what I was talking about" after the rough drive
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) January 9, 2018
The Nets are the first team since the 2012-13 San Antonio Spurs to have five straight games decided by three points or fewer. The last two games were come-from-behind attempts by the Nets that both came down to the wire and were decided by one possession.
When the game against Toronto first started, it did not seem like overtime was an option. The Raptors went on a 13-1 run to start and the Nets could not find the bottom of the net, shooting 17.6 percent and missing seven straight shots.
Everything was clicking for the Raptors, but then the three-point shot started to click for the Nets. Allen Crabbe, who has struggled with his three-point shot, started to fuel the Nets with his presence from deep, ultimately shooting 4-of-6 from three for 20 points.
While Nik Stauskas and DeMarre Carroll could not bring their threats from three due to being out with injuries, Caris LeVert made his return and not only hit a three but brought back his connection with Jarrett Allen. Helped by LeVert, Allen continued his recent offensive outburst with 14 points and this MONSTER jam.
THAT’S OUR ROOKIE 👀 pic.twitter.com/Ck8106sJhe
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) January 9, 2018
Allen was a spark plug when the Nets took the lead for brief periods after halftime. Still, the Raptors dropped 33 points in the third quarter to hold a 78-71 lead. Toronto went on to the fourth quarter to extend that lead, with the Nets going on a handful of cold streaks.
When it seemed like the Raptors were going to coast to a 10-point victory, Dinwiddie switched into another gear. He was the playmaker and scorer, leading the Nets to five straight made shots with four being threes. After Joe Harris drained a three, the Nets all of a sudden found themselves down 102-100 with under two minutes left in regulation.
DeRozan and his 35 points remained active, though, as he scored nine straight for Toronto to give his team a five-point lead with under a minute left.
But Dinwiddie still was not done. He drained a DEEP three from the top of the key and Crabbe got a shot to go down in the paint as he was falling (and injured) to tie the game at 107 with nine seconds left. That was a cap to a 36-point fourth quarter for Brooklyn.
That score held to OT, and while Dinwiddie tried to carry his team to victory, the Nets made too many mistakes. Brooklyn turned it over multiple times, giving the Raptors second chances and a jump ball that should have been a Nets possession.
The Nets could have let this game slip in regulation and still would have been applauded for fighting back from a bad start and a tough Raptors team. Down five with just a minute to go? It did not seem like it was going to happen.
Instead, Brooklyn’s leader in Dinwiddie willed a team comeback, even though the result did not skew positive.
Close losses are tough. Brooklyn’s fight makes it a little easier to swallow. Now the team’s leader says it is time to go back to the gym and work harder and better as a team.
The stats: 14 PTS, 5-5 FG, 4-6 FT, 5 REB, 2 TOV, 18 MIN
Acy took some of Allen’s minutes down the stretch as the Nets went small, but in the time he got, he was the star on the court. He got Brooklyn going in the paint and brought life to the team with his dunk.
Overall the team shot well from the charity stripe (23-of-28), but Allen made his free throws early that helped Brooklyn sneak closer to the lead. The rook is always improving and Ian Eagle’s commentary on Allen’s fro makes everything better.
The stats: 20 PTS, 6-11 FG, 4-6 3FG, 4-4 FT, 7 REB, 3 AST, 2 TOV, 34 MIN
Crabbe took one for the team. His game-tying trick shot that brought Brooklyn to overtime resulted in a bad fall and Crabbe being out indefinitely.
Before that shot, Crabbe started to get his shooting stroke back, going 4-of-6 from three. Even though he came back at the end of the game, the Nets sure could have used Crabbe for the entire overtime period.
The stats: 31 PTS, 10-24 FG, 3-10 3FG, 8-9 FT, 5 REB, 8 AST, 1 TOV, 2 STL, 42 MIN
The driving layups in open lanes. The deep three. The heads-up plays. For all the good Dinwiddie did, the hopes for a win fell with his shot that went up and over the backboard.
Dinwiddie put up a career-high in points with 31 and added eight assists. He was the team’s fearless leader in the comeback, as he often has been this season.
When Dinwiddie puts his effort into coming back into games, it’s clear that his teammates follow him. After being signed on for the rest of the season today, Dinwiddie’s role is invaluable. Now, like he said in YES’s post-game, he just has to go in the weight room and get better.
In other words, no more excuses.
The stats: 14 PTS, 5-13 FG, 0-1 3FG, 4-5 FT, 17 REB, 5 AST, 1 TOV, 2 STL, 36 MIN
RHJ put up a BIG double-double: 14 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. His presence on the boards helped Brooklyn outrebound Toronto’s big men 55-51.
He did the dirty work. Just another day at the office.