“U-S-A”: Nets 101, Raptors 97 (GAME GRADES)

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The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

Can we get seven games with the Raptors in the playoffs, please?

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Made his biggest impact in the game with two back-to-back threes, the first he got hit on without a call and the second he celebrated with a low saunter upcourt with his hands at his sides. He (rightfully) felt he got jobbed by the referees a few times, but kept his head down and just kept burying threes — a welcome development for him and Brooklyn.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Didn’t cause as many deflections as you’d expect until picking up the biggest one of the game, picking a pocket and getting to the line with 22.8 seconds left. Really effective with his short jumper and played equally well on and off the ball. He’s nearly unstoppable against other guards in the paint because of his length and basketball IQ, and he exploited those matchups offensively.


Other than the occasional bout with his inner demon “Iso,” Johnson spotted up, hit a few big shots in the third quarter, created offense out of the post, and stayed oddly out of the way in crunch time.


His three-pointer to put the Nets up 97-94 with 74 seconds left was incredible: the defense was in his face, the shot clock was against him, and he hit the biggest shot of the game to that point. Then, on the next play, he strips the ball in the middle of the action.

It’s hard not to gravitate towards Pierce’s trademark intensity, most on display during the fourth quarter with the Nets clinging to a small lead: Pierce stole an errant pass, drove the length of the floor, and drew a foul on Kyle Lowry attacking the basket, eliciting a scream from Pierce and electrifying the crowd.

Pierce also dropped three-pointer number 1,900th for his career and drove into the lane even with foul trouble. But he did get stripped by Tyler Hansbrough, an unforgivable offense.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Did Tyler Hansbrough dirty with a crossover in the first half and hit one of the game-clinching free throws but struggled to defend in the pick-and-roll and the Raptors abused that.


Strong few minutes from Anderson to close the first half helped cut the lead and help the Nets get back into this one. Has begun earning his rotation spot back.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Had a couple of moments where it looked like he was primed to go off again but it never really happened.

Jason Collins CENTER

Hard foul on Tyler Hansbrough. A+.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Started again with Kevin Garnett a late scratch. Was the only big man to show any mobility on defense, and threw down this incredibly fun dunk. Give him credit for filling Garnett’s role with the proper energy needed from a major-minute center at the NBA level.